Vendors at Century Plaza Market along Russian Boulevard in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district are collecting thumbprints for a petition calling on Prime Minister Hun Sen to rebuff a proposal to modernize the market.
The move came after some 100 vendors gathered in front of the market in Kakab I commune last week upon learning that the market would be dismantled to make way for redevelopment.
Sok Vannak, a poultry vendor there for nearly 13 years, told The Post on Monday that they would submit the petition to Hun Sen if there was no solution from the local authorities by Wednesday.
“Our only request is for the prime minister to allow us to sell goods at the same location. We don’t have any stalls, we rely only on baskets.
“Some of the vendors have borrowed money from [microfinance institutions] to rent a place on the sidewalk to sell their goods. If the market is modernised, what would they do?” he asked.
Another vendor who asked not to be named said because most of them were poor, they would not be able to afford rent at the proposed market.
“I do not oppose the redevelopment of the market. We also want to have a new place to sell but we will lose our income while it is dismantled and redeveloped. Who will help us make up for the loss? So we request the market not be dismantled,” he said.
There are 341 stalls at the market, but the number of vendors selling around the market is three times more than that of vendors with indoor stalls. The protesters said they had been given three months to vacate the venue.
The market manager could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Por Sen Chey district governor Hem Darith told The Post on Tuesday that the proposed market redevelopment would go ahead despite the protests.
He said the authorities were prepared to find a solution for the more than 300 stall owners, but would not shoulder responsibility for those selling around the market.
“Only vendors inside the market will be relocated to a temporary place nearby. When the new market redevelopment is completed, we will allow them to sell at their original place without taking any rent from them. But this applies only to those inside the market.
“There is only a small number of protesting vendors. They are just inciting other vendors. Who would protest having a new stall at the market?
“When the new market is ready, they can sell without paying any rent or fees. Monthly rent will only be collected five to six years after its inauguration, and it will only be $10 per month,” he said.
Darith said after redevelopment is completed, all stalls at the new market would increase in value and would thereby boost the vendors’ business.
He said the redevelopment would take two years and all vendors would temporarily relocate to a new location in a public park near the market.