Nearly 100 vendors protested outside Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork market yesterday after authorities dismantled their stalls without just cause, they say.
Nun Keo, who has sold second-hand clothes and drinks at the market for the past four years, said that police destroyed the vendors’ stalls early yesterday morning, claiming they violated public order. However, the 47-year-old businessman said that the vendors were there legally.
“My stall is legal. I pay US$20 per month every month to the company, but the authorities came and dismantled our stalls,” he said. “I need to run my small business to support my family,” he added.
Police also disassembled the market’s roof, which will seriously hurt business, vendors explained.
“Having a roof is important for our business,” 41-year-old Chea Chan Da, who has sold soft drinks at the market for more than a decade, said. “We need a roof to defend against the heat and the rain for our customers. If customers don’t come, nobody will buy our goods,” she added.
Ownership of the Tuol Kork market is split between the Phnom Penh municipality and an unidentified private company. Following the protests, the director of the market called for a meeting between vendors and the company to resolve the issue, vendors reported. No agreement was reached at that meeting.
“No solution came out,” 40-year-old vendor Mom Pea Rith said. “We need a solution because vendors want to continue selling, but the city and the company that owns the market did not provide any solutions, they just blamed each other,” he added.
When contacted by the Post yesterday, the director of the market, Neth, who refused to give his full name, confirmed that the negotiations were unsuccessful, laying responsibility at the feet of municipal and district authorities. “This is the responsibility of the Phnom Penh municipality and the Tuol Kork district authorities,” he said before hanging up the phone.
Tuol Kork deputy police chief Pich Keo Mony could not be reached by the Post for comment yesterday.