The 1,150 market stall holders at Sihanoukville's Psar Leu say they will go on
strike today for three days in a protest at government attempts to persuade them
to relocate to a new market at higher rents.
Vendors mill around Sihanoukville's Psar Leu after receiving their eviction notices on May 14.
They received eviction
notices last Friday, May 14, along with invitations to apply for leases at the
An angry crowd marched to the deputy governor's office the
He told them he can do nothing, that the municipality has a
committed contract with the Chinese owners of the new market, Psar Leu Thmey
(which some have dubbed Psar Thom, or "big market").
A delegation of 10
vendors will travel to Phnom Penh and attempt to ask Prime Minister Hun Sen to
"If we can't see him we will talk to anyone who is prepared
to listen to us. We are very angry and we want the government to resolve the
situation," said watchmaker Khim Sony.
Sony said the 1,150 stalls
represented an estimated 3,000 vendors.
Most stallholders are attracted
by the prospect of a new, well-drained, purpose-built market, because
government-owned Psar Leu is said to become a pigsty when it
However, they say their businesses are very small and do little
more than keep food on the home table. They maintain the Psar Thom rents are
unaffordable for most.
According to Sony the upfront cost of a 50-year
lease at Psar Thom is $2,940 for a 2m-by-2m stall and up to $18,000 for the
Discount terms are being offered for payments spread over
four months, starting with a 60 percent downpayment, and nothing more to pay for
The Psar Leu vendors also say Psar Thom has only one road
entrance and stalls near the entrance will have an unfair advantage over all
The Post contacted First Deputy Governor Chhun Sirun to ask how
he intended to deal with the vendors' concerns, but he said he was too busy to
talk about it, and that he didn't discuss such matters by telephone
Psar Thom has a checkered history. Recognising that Psar Leu was
reaching the end of its useful life without major upgrading, the muncipality
four or five years ago encouraged a Korean investor to build a new
1,200-lockup-stalls market 200 meters away,
However, after the building
was finished, there was a change of Governor. The market owner declined to pay
new government fees and taxes, and decided to sell out to a Chinese investor,
who has spent some months sprucing the place up.