One day after police in Siem Reap town ordered restaurants and bars on a popular strip for tourists to clear furniture from sidewalks, businesses complained of heavy blows to their business.
Five businesses along Siem Reap town’s “Pub Street” contacted Wednesday said they had already seen declines in business, with one restaurant manager claiming he had lost half his customers in just one day.
“We lost more than 50 percent of our customers because our restaurant is on the corner, so we lost space in the front and on the side,” said Ros Sokla, general manager of Viva Restaurant. He said his restaurant had to remove seven tables from the walkway, causing the loss of business, in large part because tourists prefer sitting at the outside tables.
“We have to obey the order, otherwise the authorities will confiscate our property,” Ros Sokla said.
Siem Reap Municipal Governor Tep Bunchay said businesses had been given two weeks’ notice before the sidewalk clearance and were ordered to leave at least two-thirds of the walkway for pedestrians.
Tep Bunchay said the sidewalk clearance should not have a negative impact on businesses.
“We told them to leave two-thirds of the sidewalk for pedestrians, so they can still do business on the remaining one-third,” he said. “We just want to maintain public order and beauty in the town.”
But a man who identified himself as the manager of Kama Sutra, an Indian restaurant on Pub Street, said he had received no notice and his restaurant isn’t allowed to use even one-third of the walkway.
“Of course this is hurting our business. How can we take away space for customers and not have less business?” said the manager, who declined to give his name.
The crackdown comes two months after a similar sidewalk clearance campaign along Phnom Penh’s riverside strip left managers and owners there complaining of severe blows to their business.
Police and municipal officials in Phnom Penh also said businesses were allowed to use one-third of the walkways, but the business owners along Sisowath Quay also claimed to have received no such notice from authorities.
The business owners in Phnom Penh also questioned why the sidewalk rule was not being enforced in other cities, where packed sidewalks are unusable by pedestrians.