Old O’Russei Market May Reopen in June, Officials Say

A long-awaited renovation of the Old O’Russei Market near Ol­ympic Stadium—the capital’s largest market—is nearly completed and the market is scheduled to reopen by June, municipal of­ficials said this week.

“It is a very convenient, good lo­cation for shopping, and people have been waiting for more than two years,” said Phnom Penh Gov­ernor Chea Sophara.

The renovation, conducted by a Chinese-Taiwanese joint venture under a BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) plan, is part of an effort to upgrade the city’s eight major markets for the first time since the 1993 Untac-sponsored elections.

The company started the $11 mil­lion project in early 1997, but stopped after the July 1997 factional fighting. Early last year, the company resumed construction of a three-story concrete building with 400 parking spaces on the same site off Moni­vong Boule­vard near Olympic Sta­dium.

“We are very happy to hear the market will open soon,” said a vendor who has been doing business temporarily at the New O’Russei Market nearby while the renovation at the old market was completed.

Another clothing vendor who only gave her name as Mom said she hopes the renovated market will attract as many customers as it did before.

“It was a good market for poor people,” she said. “Everything was there, what people wanted to buy were there. I hope business will not slow down because of its new image.”

The old, open-space O’Russei market was the largest in the capital, with more than 4,400 vendors. In the new building, nearly 4,500 vendor booths will be available, according to the company and municipal officials. Priorities will be given to former occupants.

Each booth will be leased for 20 years. To recover construction costs, the company and the city will likely charge vendors be­tween $1,900 and $3,300 annually for each booth, depending on their business, said Ea Thearith, fin­ancial director for the municipality.

“Fees are very reasonable. I hope people will be happy with the new building for their businesses,” Chea Sophara said.

After the renovation of the Old O’Russei, he said the municipality will look for a new investor to renovate the Samaki market near Royal University of Phnom Penh, which has been in bad shape and floods often during the rainy season.

(Additional reporting by Yuko Maeda)


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