Phnom Penh City Hall has removed scores of vendors from in front of the Royal Palace to make way for the construction of a new park by a company owned by the daughter of the minister of the Royal Palace, officials said Wednesday.
Phnom Penh deputy governor Khoun Sreng said the project—located on a dusty strip between Sisowath Quay and Sothearos Boulevard—was being managed by City Hall and the Royal Palace, and the construction contract had been awarded to Vispan Co. Ltd., which is owned by Kong Panya, the daughter of Royal Palace Minister Kong Sam Ol.
“The Royal Palace has had plans to build the park for a long time, but the project only started after the government approved it,” Mr. Sreng said, declining to say how much the project would cost or what the park would look like.
Daun Penh district governor Sok Sambath confirmed that hundreds of vendors had been removed from around the site to make way for the park.
“We are building the park to create beauty for the Royal Palace. The cars as well as the hundred vendors will not be allowed into the park,” he said.
Workers at the site of the new park on Wednesday confirmed that the park was being built by Vispan, but referred further questions to company manager Prum Pisoth.
Mr. Pisoth said that Vispan had been chosen by the Royal Palace to build the park, but declined to comment further.
Vispan previously constructed Prime Minister Hun Sen’s office known as the Peace Palace and was also awarded the contract to build the cremation site for late King Father Norodom Sihanouk.
Authorities were criticized on both occasions for not conducting a proper bidding process before awarding the projects to the firm.
At the time of the cremation site’s construction, then-spokesman of the Royal Cabinet Prince Sisowath Thomico said the work would cost $5 million, a claim that was later refuted by Mr. Hun Sen, who put the price as $1.2 million.
Ouk Sreyleak, a 19-year-old lotus flower seller, said that district authorities told her and other vendors to leave about one month ago.
“The authorities told us all to go away for three months so the park can be built and that they will allow us to return after they construct appropriate shops,” she said.