City Halves Rent Demand for Protesting Market Vendors

Vendors from the Boeung Kang Keng market in Chamkar Mon district won a partial re­prieve from a city demand that they pay five years’ rent on their stalls in advance when it was an­nounced that the rent had been halved.

A letter sent to the vendors on Tuesday from Mann Chhoeun, head of the municipal Cabinet, announced the city’s concession to the striking vendors, who have protested the last two days in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house near Sihanouk Boulevard.

The vendors, who protested two weeks ago in front of the Na­tion­al Assembly, say they are confused by the new demand be­cause they already own the stalls. The municipality owns the land under the small market, located near Street 63 north of Mao Tse Tung Boulevard.

The rent demand was sent to the 1,416 vendors last month, asking for up-front payments of $100 to $300 from each vendor, de­pending on the size of the stall, for a five-year contract from January 2002 to December 2006.

The market sells food and used clothing and receives none of the tourism trade that boosts sales at Phsar Thmei or Phsar Tuol Tum­pong. Vendors complained they can­not afford the rent, even though it amounts to only about $.05 to $0.15 per day.

“We need the prime minister to solve this problem for us,” one vendor said.

The group said they would sit in front of Hun Sen’s house until 6 pm Wednesday in the hope of meeting him, but  eventually left without seeing him.

One vendor said Wednesday the group will protest until either Hun Sen or Phnom Penh Gov­er­nor Chea Sophara agrees to talk to them.

Deputy Governor Chev Kim­heng first issued a notice ordering the vendors to pay the rent by Nov 30 or face eviction. He followed a few days later with a second notice listing nine conditions for the rent. A few days after that, a third order was sent listing 12 conditions.

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