On Saturday night, Siem Reap provincial governor Khim Bun Song and other authorities led an inspection team that walked around the Old Market, Pub Street and some night markets to determine what security measures should be taken to avoid more downtown fires.
The team also inspected the sites to determine the level of sanitation and how it can be improved.
The governor said he would like to see preparations put in place to prevent any risks of fire occurring again, and he also invited expert officials to research preparations for security and sanitation.
The major worry for authorities is the dangerously unorganised electricity cables in these areas.
“Within one minute, everything could be damaged by fire,” the governor said.
A fire in July at Doeum Kralanh was the third recent market fire caused by faulty electrical wiring.
In 2011, the Siem Reap River Market caught fire, causing damage to more than 30 storefronts. In December last year, eight people lost their lives and two people were seriously injured when a Siem Reap night market burst into flames in the middle of the night.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has offered $300,000 for the reconstruction of the Doeum Kralanh market in Siem Reap after the fire destroyed more than 300 of the market’s 600 vendor stalls and caused damage exceeding $1 million.
The governor said that after walking and looking around Pub Street and some markets, he will lead a meeting to discuss and resolve what should happen next.
“We have to be ready for any incidents in this area, especially fire, and we would like to do it before problems happen,” he said. “We have talked to vendors about what they need and what they worry about and then we will work it out.”
The governor’s walk also aimed to raise awareness among local residents and vendors about the importance of cleanliness, security and safety measures for the benefit of tourism.
“I believe that tourism will gradually increase and we will always continue our mission to make sure that our Siem Reap will be clean, green, safe, and secure,” he said.
But the governor said sanitation in Siem Reap is still a problem that authorities could not ignore.
Only a small percentage of people in Siem Reap have access to a regular rubbish collection, a service which families must pay for, thus some people throw their rubbish on the main roads and along the riverside banks.
The governor also appealed to all vendors and Siem Reap citizens to pack their garbage properly and keep it in a rubbish bin to avoid any bad smells and to stop plastics flying around in the tourist town.
Koe Radi, a wooden souvenir vendor at Siem Reap Night Market II, who lost her shop in the fire at Siem Reap Night Market on December last year, thanked the governor for paying attention to the safety of tourists as well as citizens.
“The only one thing that I am still afraid is fire, I lost my shop and that cost me around $5,000 at the time. So I don’t want to lose it again,” she said.