Police shut down 60 shops on Monday that sold duck eggs, beer and cooked octopus on Sokha beach in Sihanoukville’s Mittapheap district, saying the owners were polluting the area.
Hem Saroeun, chief of the Sihanoukville Environmental Department, said most of the shop owners defecated on the beach. Waste from the bathrooms built near the beach also flowed back into the sea, he said.
Mittapheap First Deputy Governor Chhum Sirun said funds for a renovation plan that will include a small park with some umbrellas for tourists were provided by Sok Kong, president of the Commercial Chamber and director of Sokimex Company.
Sok Kong said he gave money for the renovation because he wants the beach to look good. The hotel his company is building nearby is due to open later this year, he said. “We have a nice hotel, so we have to have a nice beach,” he said.
Sok Kong said he did not ask the police to remove the food vendors. He said the vendors would be allowed to work in the hotel.
Almost all of the 21 families that owned the shops cooked food for their customers on the beach and slept on the premises, Mittapheap District Governor Kong Sameoun said. The families were asked to move before the police took action, he said. No other land was given to them to build another shop because the land belongs to the state, he said.
The shop owners throw waste on the beach, even though the Environment Department has educated them more than once, Kong Sameoun said.
“We want the beach clean for the tourists to enjoy,” Hem Saroeun said. “The selling shops reduce the beautiful site of the beach.”
Also, the shops pollute a nearby lake where people used to bathe. The shop owners throw waste into the lake, mainly plastic containers, he said.
Chhum Sirun said on Wednesday that although the shops do not seriously pollute the environment, the beach has to be cleaned up one step at a time.