Authorities in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district have warned of possible legal action against vendors and residents near Neak Meas market in Phsar Doeum Kor commune should they continue to resist their orders.
The warning came after vendors erupted in protest on the night of March 6 after district authorities cracked down and seized their fruit.
Around 40 protesters and residents blocked part of Mao Tse Tung Blvd at the corner of Street 245 into the market to demand compensation.
Ly Tina, a vendor who took part in the protest, told The Post that district authorities had implemented an order banning people from selling fruits and vegetables on the sidewalks as it prevented pedestrians from using them and caused traffic congestion.
She said the authorities had painted a red line marking the location where people could do business without affecting public order.
She noted that district governor Chea Pisey issued a notice on March 4 telling the residents on both sides of Mao Tse Tung blvd between street 230 and street 336 to cease selling fruits and vegetables there and warned he would take administrative action if they did not comply with the notice.
“The notice amounts to discrimination and it restricts the legitimate livelihoods of poor people in the area.
“The authorities have not yet given us a clear explanation of this case. Suddenly, on the night of March 6, officers came down and confiscated a lot of my fruit, worth about 2 million riel ($500) total. They also confiscated vegetables, fruits and household items from some local vendors,” she said.
Another vendor Lev Bunny, 60, said authorities had come in and taken nearly 100kg of his fruits and vegetables including pineapples, oil and nuts from his house.
According to Bunny, the authorities claimed that people brought vegetables and fruits from the provinces by truck to sell on the street there, causing traffic jams.
But governor Pisey told The Post that before implementing the administrative measures, the authorities had educated the vendors many times to stop selling things along the roadside there.
“On March 6, a small group of people were selling vegetables and fruits on the sidewalks, causing congestion on public roads and using violence by throwing mangos and bananas at officers who were there to enforce the law.
“They also blocked the intersection of Mao Tse Tung Blvd at the corner of Street 245 and insulted our officers after they implemented administrative measures to seize the fruits sold on the side walk – not in their houses,” he said.
Pisey called on vendors to stop breaking the law or the police will pursue legal action by arresting them and filing cases with the court.