Garage Owners Skeptical About Relocating

Garage owners in Phnom Penh voiced skepticism on Wednesday about the municipality’s plan to relocate them from the city’s main roads, saying it would drain their pro­­fits and separate them from loyal clientele.

Municipal officials announced on Tuesday that vehicle repair shops will soon be relocated due to security and traffic concerns, while Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu So­phe­ak said Wednesday that moving all the shops to one secure area would help prevent terrorism.

But Tuol Kok district garage own­er Meng Ty said his repair shop was not a security or traffic threat.

“The [precautions] for terrorism should be at embassies,” not gar­a­ges, he said.

Chan Sokha, owner of a Cham­kar Mon district garage, said he had been running his business from his home for many years.

“I would lose profit if I am ordered to move…. Particularly, we might have to pay for rented store fees,” he said.

Khieu Sopheak said the move could prevent terrorists from housing car bombs in the shops.

“This is a precautionary measure. It is better to prevent the disease than to cure it. In Iraq and other countries, the suicide bombers al­ways use cars, and a garage is one place to put cars,” Khieu Sopheak said.

Several security experts said car repair shops were not normally considered terror threats.

“I’ve never heard of this before. It’s not a typical security concern,” said Christian Berger, country director for MPA security and a former military and police officer.

Another security expert, who asked not to be named, said that mov­ing the garages could be difficult to implement and ineffective.

“I don’t see why they should concentrate on car repair shops,” he said, adding that the move may be a political one designed to demonstrate a will to combat terrorism.

“They want to show they are in line with what neighboring countries are doing with counter-terrorism measures,” he said.

Municipal officials could not be reached for comment.



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