Phnom Penh officials Monday unveiled a massive $8.4 million package to rehabilitate three of the capital’s largest markets.
Municipal Deputy Governor Seng Tong announced the plans to renovate Phsar Thmei, Phsar Kandal and Phsar Chas with money from the French Development Agency. Phsar Thmei would cost $4.2 million, Phsar Kandal would cost $2.6 million and Phsar Chas would cost $1.6 million, Seng Tong said.
If the plan is approved, officials would focus on building new and better drainage systems, developing better parking and renovating streets surrounding the markets to help cut down on traffic jams, Seng Tong said.
The projects would begin by the middle of 2003 and should be completed by the end of the year if they are to do any good, Seng Tong said.
“Everything must be done in 2003 whatever else we do, because we can’t carelessly allow vendors to sell in run-down markets,” he said.
Phsar Thmei’s main building would be first to face renovations. Officials want to fix the roofs and widen areas outside the main building to make it easier for pushcart vendors to sell their wares, Seng Tong said.
The markets have all grown faster than the infrastructure can accommodate, so the government must step in to restore order, Seng Tong said.
“We can’t allow them to sell in chaos. Vendors should have proper stores for their daily earnings,” he said.
The plan has received support in principle from Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara, who said that repairing the city’s markets are the third major project for beautification, after building good gardens and public parks.
“A market should not be a place that poisons the environment,” the governor said Monday.
The proposed rehabilitation will not, however, detract from the traditions that have made the markets city landmarks, Chea Sophara said. Authorities will make sure any new construction follows Khmer architecture.
“Cambodia has its own style. We don’t need to copy from someone else,” he said.
The proposal has already stirred interest among construction firms, said Chhay Rithysen, deputy director for the municipal Department of Land Management, Urbanization and Construction. “We are in a hurry to select the best company to renovate our markets with the highest quality,” he said.
The construction must not disrupt the lives of those who depend on the markets, Chhay Rithysen added. “We don’t want people to quit in the midst of renovation or construction,” he said. “We will find some good solution for the vendors.”