Hundreds of Olympic Market vendors rallied outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Kandal pro-vince home Thursday, while representatives for the vendors and the firm managing the market met separately with Phnom Penh Dep-uty Governor Pa Socheatvong in an effort to settle a lease dispute, vendors said.
One vendor, who asked not to be named, said vendors brought a complaint to Lim Leang Se, Hun Sen’s cabinet chief, over mistreatment they say they have endured from the market’s manager, the Thai Bunrong company.
“We went to rally at 8 am until the afternoon, waiting for the re-sults of our five representatives negotiating with the company’s representatives,” the vendor said.
Lim Leang Se confirmed that he received the vendors’ complaint, though he said marching outside the prime minister’s home would accomplish little.
“I received their complaint, but I also lobbied for them to go to the municipal headquarters,” he said. “But they did not go, they still rallied here, so we could only wait for the results of the meeting.”
The vendors have complained because they say Thai Bunrong is exploiting them by charging too much in rent and requiring a 10-year lease from the sellers after the company signed a 20-year lease to manage the market. Vendors de-mand 20-year contracts and no increase in the rent for their stalls.
Thai Bunrong representative Lay Bunpa could not be reached for comment, but the company placed an ad in a local newspaper Thurs-day, saying it would follow a recommendation made by Hun Sen and not increase the vendors’ rent.
However, a vendor representative who was at Thursday’s meeting and who also asked not to be named, said no such offer had been made. The vendor also expressed faith in municipal officials to protect the sellers’ interests.
“The municipal deputy governor will solve this problem for us; he is optimistic we will find a fruitful solution to our problems,” the vendor said.
Reached before his meeting with the vendors, Pa Socheat-vong said he was too busy to comment on the dispute. His meeting with Thai Bunrong representatives was still ongoing as of press time Thursday.