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Vendors in Takeo say they want to go back to their former stalls

Vendors in Takeo say they want to go back to their former stalls

Despite alleged threats from district officials, Takeo vendors protest prohibitively high cost of stalls in newly renovated and upgraded market.

ABOUT 300 vendors from Tonloab market in Takeo's Kirivong district demonstrated in front of the market Thursday to press for the right to continue to sell their goods there, vendors told the Post on Thursday. Vendors said they planned to bring their case to Prime Minister Hun Sen despite authorities' attempts to intimidate them.

"We protested because we want to sell at our old location," said San Sokhom, 49. "The market owners broke their promise."

San Sokhom said the market's owners announced plans to modernise the market three years ago, including installing an improved drainage system and a new roof. When the market reopened a month ago, the owners were charging between US$5,000 and $12,000 for a small store, pricing the vendors out of their old locations.

Nguon Sovann, another vendor, said she and others had been relegated to peddling their wares along a nearby street since they had been "kicked out".

"They only let us sell along the road. It makes a traffic jam every day," she said.

Nguon Sovann accused the Kirivong district governor of threatening her husband at gunpoint for demonstrating.

"At about 9pm on Wednesday, the Kirivong district governor came with a gun to my house and pointed it at my husband's head. The governor said my husband was the protest leader who persuaded vendors to protest," she said.

Kirivong police chief Meas Sophoan and Kirivong district governor Teuk Songlim declined to comment. Ni Hen, an owner of Tonloab market, could not be reached.

Nguon Sovann denied rumours that the vendors planned to burn down the market, saying they would seek help from Hun Sen instead.

"We are not crazy. We will not burn down the market. If we don't have any settlement here, then we will go to Prime Minister Hun Sen's house to ask for help," she said.

Even though commune officials met with vendors after the demonstration, vendor Nhen Pros said they believed their demands were not being taken seriously by the authorities.

"They asked us to go to the commune office, but they didn't talk about our suggestions," he said. "They only talked about their plan to ask vendors selling along the road to let them continue to pave the road."

"We did not agree because they would cheat us again," he added.

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