About 150 company traders and laborers who transport fish and fruit to Thailand at Poipet City’s border crossing in Banteay Meanchey province protested yesterday against local authorities’ demands that their employer improve its operations or relocate, officials said.
Thea Sa Em, an official at Hok Chrea company, said the traders and laborers briefly faced off with 20 police and military police officers, who threatened to evict the company from its current location.
“We protested around one hour when the city governor led forces here trying to evict us from this location saying, our business location has no license,” he said.
Mr Sa Em said his company, which has a permit to export fish and fruit, would have to improve packaging operations or relocate to a new site, where it would have to pay much higher rent.
He alleged authorities were trying to push the company to relocate to a new site, as a local police commander owned that space.
But An Vannak, Poipet City deputy governor, said Hok Chrea had not obtained a proper license to do business at its current location, and that the company failed to properly package its fish at the site.
Mr Vanak said that due to a lack of proper packaging the company-employed oxcarts and trucks leave a trail of “dirty and bad-smelling water running onto the road [at the border crossing], affecting tourists visiting Cambodia.”
He said that the company would need to apply for a license and upgrade its packaging facilities or relocate.
Mr Vanak added the company had stoked false fears among its workers that police had come to evict the company.
Oum Sophal, Poipet City police chief, said police and military officers had in fact been deployed to teach the company about proper fish packaging techniques.
“There was a confrontation because we were there to educate the fish traders and sellers, especially the company representatives how to pack the fish properly,” he said, without further explaining what the officers knew about fish transport.