Battambang Vendors Told They Must Relocate to New Market

The more than 400 vendors at Battambang province’s Thma Koul market received an eviction notice from Thma Koul district authorities Dec 27, informing them that the market will be closed as of today and they are to relocate to a new market almost 1 km away.

District Governor Ouch Eang said Monday that he hasn’t found a company to enter into a joint venture for the market work and therefore doesn’t know how long the renovations will take or if the vendors will ever be allowed to return.

“We do not know if it will be knocked down or just renovated. We do not have the exact plan yet,” he said, adding that the majority of vendors have already made the transition to the new market.

Mon Chek, SRP deputy chief of Tapon commune, said vendors have been asked to pay $2,000 for a 10-year lease on stalls at the new market, which opened in October.

“They cannot afford to buy the new stalls,” he said.

SRP lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang, who represents Battambang, has thrown his support behind the vendors—many of whom have been at Thma Koul since 1979 and are pro­testing their eviction—and has written to Interior Minister Sar Kheng.

“Please…help solve the request made by vendors, who are asking for a halt to the removal of the market and to continue their occupation until there is agreement from the vendors over the renovation,” Eng Chhay Eang wrote in a letter to Sar Kheng dated Dec 28.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reach­ed for comment Monday.

According to a Dec 28 letter from company Citymex Import Export Co, which runs the new market, vendors who agree to move to the new location by today will be awarded $50 and will be excused from paying daily patent taxes on their shops for a calendar year.

Citymex President Heng Chhat said that 90 percent of the vendors have willingly made the transition already.

However, vendor Yin Ra, 40, said by telephone Sunday that he is re­fusing to vacate the stall he has run since the 1980s. Only 30 percent of vendors have made the transition to the new location, and they did so out of fear, he said.

“Those [vendors] were intimidated and scared,” he added. “If the district authority wants to renovate our market, they must discuss the plan with the vendors.”

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