Eviction Threat Worries Kompong Speu Vendors

kompong speu town, Kompong Speu province – Hundreds of vendors in Kom­pong Speu’s Phsar Neak Poan are bracing themselves for a possible forced eviction this weekend because a local developer is seeking to turn the dilapidated market into a more upscale site.

The local authorities and the developer have assured the vendors that they will be allowed to return, but it is not clear at what cost or how long it will take.

Developer Hor Yean signed a deal in March 2000 with the provincial governor to develop and collect taxes at the market.

The management company will pay $1,282 per year for 10 years to manage and renovate the area, according to NGO observers and documents provided by vendors at the market.

The company intends to lay concrete on the dirt-surfaced, 1,647-square-meter market starting Wednesday, and the provincial governor has signed a decree asking the vendors to vacate the premises.

Several vendors believe the eviction will take place this weekend because NGO observers will likely not be present. Vendors say this was the tactic of the police last month, when the developers laid concrete on a 20- square-meter corner of the market.

A human rights worker said negotiations between the vendors, NGOs and the provincial authorities have broken off. “They said that they would use force to dismantle the market,” the rights worker said.

Kompong Speu Governor Ou Boun said Thursday that the government only wants the vendors to leave the market for a short period of time. If they do not vacate, he said, “we will bring measures [against the vendors] in the future”

Requests to authorities to contact Hor Yean were declined.

“It is very important to feed the family but the company has asked us to leave and we have nowhere to go,” said one vendor who asked not to be named. “We sell so we can eat, so we cannot stop for even one day.”

The vendors are also worried that when and if they move back in they will be forced to pay additional fees such as “hygiene, beauty and public order taxes,” or pay inflated fees to move into new vending stalls that they say were not part of the original plan.

“The first time [we petitioned] we had five representatives, but they were threatened with prison. Now the people all stand together and we have no representatives,” another vendor said.

The authorities have agreed to give the vendors an alternate site for the duration of the renovation, said Lim Phai of the NGO Urban Sector Group. However, “the concern is that the new land is also private property and they will not be able to stay there either.”


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