Ahead of the reopening of the border crossing at Preah Vihear temple, Cambodian officials are reorganizing a market at the base of the temple that Thai authorities have accused of causing pollution in Thailand, officials said Monday.
The market needs to be restructured so that it does not pollute a stream running into Thailand, said Pall San, first deputy governor of Preah Vihear.
Thai authorities brought up the pollution from the market during talks on May 24 aimed at reopening the border crossing.
“We decided to keep the residents at the market, and the market stalls will not be removed, but we will clean it very nicely and make it sanitary for tourists,” Pall San said.
When the market has been reorganized, Cambodian officials will reopen their border gate, he said.
There is no plan to remove villagers from the temple area, or to demolish the market, Preah Vihear Governor Preap Tann said.
Authorities have also begun to demolish a 17-room, concrete guesthouse situated near the market, as it is an eyesore, Pall San said.
“It is being destroyed because it looks not good at all,” he said.
Tensions at the border crossing arose earlier this month, when hundreds of Thai soldiers moved into disputed border territory by the temple, Cambodian officials said.
Hundreds of Cambodian villagers were displaced by the troop presence.
The Thai troops have since withdrawn and destroyed their makeshift trenches and living quarters.
Provincial authorities are now waiting for an order from their superiors to reopen the border gate, Preah Vihear Deputy Governor Long Sovann said.
Provincial authorities “have no plan to reopen it because now we are working and organizing order at the temple,” he said.
Interior Ministry Spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Monday that he believed the border gate will be reopened soon.
“Everything is returning to normal,” he said.