Market Vendors Protest Over Fees in Prey Veng

About 350 vendors protested in front of Prey Veng Provincial Hall on Monday to call for adequate compensation after a fire ripped through the provincial market in April, while also demanding that the market’s owners take more responsibility for fires in the future.

The protesters said they were angry over the owner’s assertion that the damage from a fire that swept the market on April 12 is the responsibility of the owner of the stall from which the fire started.

Thirteen stalls accepted $500 in compensation from the market owner while five others refused, valuing the damage sustained during the market fire at between $10,000 to $20,000, according to vendors.

Vendors contacted said Monday that Sa Leang, the owner of the market, was attempting to shift his responsibility to the vendors.

“From 6 p.m., all the vendors in the market go home and the security guards of the market have to be responsible for the security in the market,” said Ros Sophea, who owns three grocery and cosmetic stalls.

“It is not the responsibility of the vendor to pay for the damage when it has happened,” she said.

Ly Sochea, another vendor, said that Monday’s protest was also to oppose the proposed hike in the night security fee at the market, with Mr. Leang planning to increase monthly fees from 7,000 riel to 10,000 riel (or $1.75 to $2.50).

A third major point of contention for the vendors was the electricity fees at the market, according to Ms. Sochea, with current prices being more expensive than those paid by homeowners.

Ms. Sochea said 10 vendors were called into the provincial hall to discuss their requests Monday and that five of 10 points were agreed to. But the three main requests concerning compensation and responsibility for market fires, security fees and electricity prices remain unresolved, she said.

Mr. Leang, the market owner, said Monday he has not yet received any document outlining the vendors’ demands, but that he had sent a representative to collect the document from the provincial hall.

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