Dozens of vendors on Sihanoukville’s popular O’Chheuteal Beach are opposing a government plan to relocate them to smaller stalls further from the water’s edge as part of an effort to beautify another stretch of coastline before this year’s Sea Festival.
Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Yun Min said the 46 vendors were notified of the government’s development proposal last week by officials who presented them with floor plans showing smaller stalls they would need to build before the annual event in December.
“We informed them about a week ago and we already have a plan for them,” Mr. Min said, referencing the project designed by the National Committee for Cambodia Bay Management and Development.
The eviction plan follows the April demolition of nearly 100 structures along a separate stretch of O’Chheuteal known locally as Ariston. The structures, from simple tents to a brick-walled restaurant, were removed after the owners repeatedly ignored orders to leave.
In a letter sent to Mr. Min on Wednesday, the vendors, whose stalls are built on a government-owned stretch of sand in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s beachfront estate, said they rejected the new site because it was too small. They asked that the beautification project be delayed until after the 2018 election.
Krea Navoeun, 50, who owns a rice and seafood stall, said vendors would agree to the plans if the proposed stalls were bigger, while Heang Vouch Leng, 36, who also runs a food stall, said she met with provincial hall authorities on Thursday to ask for a delay, but that her request was rejected.
“They said they cannot wait until the election is over,” she said.
Mr. Min said he received the vendors’ letter, but that it was unlikely that a delay would be approved.
“I don’t think it is possible because we have to prepare for the Sea Festival,” he said. “This year, we want to make the beach look good and beautiful.”