Trash Trucks Block Market Over Double-Fee Dispute

A garbage company accused of orchestrating a daily shakedown of market vendors in Ratanakkiri province, despite a warning to stop the practice, used its trucks to block the main entrance of a market on Monday morning, officials said.

The owner of Banlung City’s main market filed a complaint against the Khem Chhror company last week, and local authorities confronted company representative Chea Koun as he walked through the market collecting money on Monday, said deputy provincial governor Nhem Sam Oeun.

Shortly afterward, four company trucks arrived at the market and blocked the main entrance, he said.

“The owner of the garbage collection company was unhappy when he heard that authorities had prevented his staff from collecting money from vendors,” Mr. Sam Oeun said. “That’s why he sent the trucks to the market to block the entrance.”

The company had been charging vendors between 500 and 1,000 riel, or about $0.13 to $0.25—depending on the size of their stall—even though the owner of the market, businessman Sa Leang, had already paid Khem Chhror to collect garbage there, he said.

“This company has no right to collect money from those vendors,” he said.

After the trucks arrived on Monday, a representative of the market met with Khem Chhror employees and they came to an agreement about payment around 1 p.m., leading the vehicles to leave again, Mr. Sam Oeun said, adding that he was not privy to details of the meeting.

Mr. Leang, the market owner, also said he did not know how the conflict was resolved, as he had been in Phnom Penh, but that the deal had since fallen through in any case.

“The garbage company continued to collect money from the vendors” the following morning, he said, adding that he would file another complaint against the company, which the local government had contracted to do garbage pickups.

The Khem Chhror company did not respond to a request for comment.

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