Phsar Chas vendors are drafting a letter to Phnom Penh’s first deputy governor, Chea Sophara, in the hopes of preventing the “old market” from being torn down and rebuilt.
Such a move would displace the vendors and possibly force them to buy new stalls. A Hong Kong company would start the move before the end of the year, and a new market should be built and operating in approximately two years, Chea Sophara said.
“We are so poor now,” said Kim Phai, a 34-year-old vendor at Phsar Chas. “If the municipality [displaces us], it will affect our living condition. We make little money now, and we have no money to pay for new stands.”
On Wednesday, as vendors rallied together and planned to contact Chea Sophara, the mood was glum inside Phsar Chas. Many vendors said they feared they’d end up like Phsar O’Russei vendors who have been displaced for years waiting for that market to be rebuilt.
“You can see [the vendors at O’Russei] lost their shops,” said 45-year-old Beng Mara.
According to Bun Chan Ly, chief of Phsar Chas, the market comprises 584 stalls. Provided the project goes forward, the vendors will move to the park north of Phsar Chas between Streets 106 and 108, he said. He suggested that existing vendors not be charged for stalls in the new market.
“I just want to know exactly what they are going to do to this market. I do not know what to tell my vendors when they ask me about the situation,” he said.
Chea Sophara said the new market will be a three-story building with vendors on the ground floor. The top two floors will be rented out by the municipality.
He declined to say how much the project will cost and did not know the name of the company involved.
“We will give the stands back to [the vendors] whenever construction is finished. But they will have to pay us a small amount of money because their stands will have a nice roof and be clean,” Chea Sophara said.