Police have cleared an alleyway of street vendors and squatters at the request of the British Ambassador, who is moving into a new residence next door.
Sam Saroeun said police came Friday and evicted her family and 18 others from the alleyway off Street 240 across from the Kantha Bopha Hospital. Her three boys are now staying at the nearby Wat Botum and a fourth has moved in with relatives while she continues to sleep in the alley as she has done for four years, she said.
“I just run a business so that my children can go to school. Why force us to leave?” she said.
The handful of vendors remaining along the alley acknowledged that police had warned them to get out about two months ago, but said they had few alternatives.
Most said they had been paying rent in one form or another. Others said they had been paying 300 or 400 riel a day to police to stall eviction.
“It’s not fair,” said Ly Ya, 19, who has been sleeping under a tent with her sister in the alley.
British Ambassador Stephen Bridges said he plans to move into the French colonial-style home after renovations are completed. He said he asked authorities to clear away a rapidly growing number of street vendors from the front of the house. The alley also needed to be cleared to ensure that vending does not resume along the front, he said.
Bridges said, though, that he had not anticipated that people lived in the alley. “I was not looking to evict people. I was only looking to make the house I work and live in functional,” he said.
Ian Felton, deputy director of the British Embassy, said the British government had donated $1.9 million to assist squatters evicted from the banks of the Bassac River.