Traditionally a boom time for crafts sellers from the provinces, this year's festival have proven a bust
A vendor from the provinces waits for customers in the riverside's Wat Ounalom, where many sellers say they have been forced to set up shop by authorities who have kicked them off of the capital's promenade. Police say the vendors get in the way of traffic.
VILLAGERS who hauled thousands of handmade products from their provinces to sell at the water festival have complained of new police restrictions on the places they can sell, and excessive demands by police for street tax.
"Every year we have been allowed to sell on riverfront streets, but this year we are limited to selling inside the Ounalom pagoda," said Chey Chan, 36, who brought souvenir handicrafts from her home in Siem Reap to sell at the festival.
She added that despite the new limitations and the impact of them on their sales, police were frequently demanding they pay a street tax.
"Three to five police come to take money from us each day. They take 1,000 riels each time, so we spend between 3,000 riels and 5,000 riels in tax," she said. "I am worried that I may have no money to board a taxi back to my home due to the police limiting our sales and taking money from us."
Pich Socheata, deputy governor of Daun Penh district, said Tuesday that vendors were not allowed to place goods on the street sides of Sothearos and Sisowath Quays because of traffic.
"Limiting vendors to sell their products in the pagoda is to facilitate traffic for festival goers and to keep order along the streets," she said, declining to comment on police bribes.