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Vendors protest at facility cuts

Vendors protest at facility cuts

More than 100 vendors protested outside Tuol Kork market in Phnom Penh yesterday to agitate for the market operator to reconnect water and electricity facilities, which have been cut off since Thursday, stallholders said.

Bou Roeung, who owns a hairdressing stall, said officials from a Chinese-owned firm that operates the market had cut off the facilities to stalls after accusing vendors of failing to pay their bills for the past five months; a charge that she denied.

“This company had their excuses that we did not pay the stall fees since July so they did not have money to pay to the government,” she said.

She added that although the company chaged vendors more than the market price, “we paid water and electricity bills every month”.

She said the lack of facilities had made it impossible for many vendors to run their stalls, most of which have remained closed since Monday.

She identified the market operator as King Fortune Industry Co Ltd and said disputes over stall rental prices and facility bills had begun in 2007.

She said the company had in July proposed raising her monthly stall fee from US$30 to $140; an amount she said would be impossible for her to pay.

Chhoeng Leang, chief of Tuol Kork market, said district authorities had met with company representatives yesterday in an attempt to find a resolution to the dispute.

He declined to comment on the results of the meeting, saying only that “the company must fulfill its duty to vendors”.

He referred further questions to district governor Seng Ratanak, who said he was “too busy” to speak to reporters.

Company representative Orn Sokon could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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