Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities ordered about 27 restaurant, bar and guesthouse owners along O’Tres beach in Sihanoukville to roughly halve the size of their premises to make way for a public park, officials said yesterday.
In July, businesses on a different 1,500-meter stretch of the popular beach were evicted after being compensated.
Provincial authorities announced this month that a second group of business owners must reduce the size of their premises from 22 to 13 meters, provincial cabinet chief Sok Phan said.
“The businesspeople must downsize their shacks without any compensation because they are running makeshift businesses on the government’s land and the government wants to develop this area like O’Chheuteal beach,” Mr Phan said. The government signed a one-year contract with a company to build a park along O’Tres beach, he added.
Keo Nika, 31, who opened a restaurant with bungalow rooms on the stretch more than 10 years ago, said the owners were united in their refusal to reduce the size of their premises.
“All businesspeople do not accept the provincial authorities’ orders to downsize,” Ms Nika said, noting that authorities wanted other restaurant, bar and guesthouse owners to take proposed vacated space.
Kim Ly, 42, another owner, also refused to downsize her premises. “We cannot accept such a small space,” Ms Ly said.
According to a copy of an announcement dated Jan 11, which was signed by Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Sboang Sarath, the authorities ordered the downsizing to implement a plan to divide up the area and allocate plots to more businesspeople. “If [owners] do not practice the policy above, provincial authorities abiding by the law will not be responsible for any damage to people’s property,” the announcement said.
Mr Sarath yesterday said the businesspeople were told to downsize their premises and dismantle bungalow rooms built on them.
“We do not evict or move businesspeople away,” Mr Sarath said. “If businesspeople do not listen to directions, authorities will remove” their businesses completely.