Unfinished O’Russei Market Opens Today

Laborers worked through the night to apply the finishing touches to Phnom Penh’s newest and big­­gest shopping area, O’Russei market, in time for its official opening today.

But workers said Wednesday it will take another week to complete the $11 million project.

“I don’t believe everything will be finished [today],” said Peng Laiheng, who was finishing up a sidewalk outside the market Wednesday.

“There are no gates around the stalls yet so the vendors cannot lock up.”

Many stall owners, however, said they will be ready for the customers today, and Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara will preside over an official opening ceremony this morning.

“Chea Sophara said even if only one or two shops are ready, the market is still going to open on Thursday, so I’m ready,” said Kong Sihouth, who already filled half her shelves and racks with toys.

She said she is worried, however, that business won’t be as good as it was at the old O’Russei market, which will remain open from 6 am to 6 pm.

“My old customers won’t know where I am, so I probably won’t sell as much,” she said.

Krang Sokeang, who will sell fruit at the new market, said she expects business will be slow in the beginning but will pick up in the future.

“So many people live in this area, so I think in the long run it will be better than the old market,” she said.

The new O’Russei has three floors and about 6,000 vendors, which is about 1,600 more than the old market. Phsar Thmei, the city’s second largest market, has just 2,400 vendors.

Customers can buy a wide array of goods at O’Russei, from food to clothes to household items.

Cheav Ly, a vendor who sells dishes and glasses at Phsar Thmei, said she is not worried about competition from the new O’Russei market.

“I’ve been here for quite a long time, and I have a lot of regular customers who always buy from me,” she said.

But several shoppers at Phsar Thmei said they are eager to check out the new market.

“If O’Russei is good, I will go there because it’s closer to my home,” said Than Bunkthet, who regularly shops at Phsar Thmei.

Hok Chakriya, 18, said she is excited to see what O’Russei is like. “If O’Russei has cheaper products and good quality products, I will go there,” she said.

The market made headlines even before it opened, as hundreds of vendors took to the streets to demand their rent be decreased.

The municipality, which manages the market, set booth rates at $1,900 to $3,300 for a 20-year lease, with the money to be paid over the course of a five-year period.

O’Russei vendors said they would pay the rent over five years if it were halved. Vendors also complained the market booths were too small.

The municipality refused to back down, and many vendors said they have no choice but to accept the city’s decision.

“Some vendors who have difficulties have taken out loans, but most of the protesters have calmed down,” Krang Sokeang said.

The new market is part of an overall plan to upgrade the eight major shopping areas in the city, Chea Sophara said.

After O’Russei, city officials are considering renovating or building a new market for Phsar Chas and Phsar Boeng Keng Kang.

Construction on O’Russei began in early 1997 but stopped after the factional fighting in July 1997. Construction resumed early last year.

“After we are finished with O’Russei, we will look at the other markets one by one,” Chea Sophara said.

 

 

Unfinished O’Russei Market Opens Today

by Kay Kimsong and Gina Chon

the cambodia daily

Laborers worked through the night to apply the finishing touches to Phnom Penh’s newest and biggest shopping area, O’Russei market, in time for its official opening today.

But workers said Wednesday it will take another week to complete the $11 million project.

“I don’t believe everything will be finished [today],” said Peng Laiheng, who was finishing up a sidewalk outside the market Wednesday. “There are no gates around the stalls yet so the vendors cannot lock up.”

Many stall owners, however, said they will be ready for the customers today, and Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara will preside over an official opening ceremony this morning.

“Chea Sophara said even if only one or two shops are ready, the market is still going to open on Thursday, so I’m ready,” said Kong Sihouth, who already filled half her shelves and racks with toys.

She said she is worried, however, that business won’t be as good as it was at the old O’Russei market, which is will remain open from 6 am to 6 pm.

“My old customers won’t know where I am, so I probably won’t sell as much,” she said.

Krang Sokeang, who will sell fruit at the new market, said she expects business will be slow in the beginning but will pick up in the future.

“So many people live in this area, so I think in the long run it will be better than the old market,” she said.

The new O’Russei has three floors and about 6,000 vendors, which is about 1,600 more than the old market. Phsar Thmei, the city’s second largest market, has just 2,400 vendors. Customers can buy a wide array of goods at O’Russei, from food to clothes to household items.

Cheav Ly, a vendor who sells dishes and glasses at Phsar Thmei, said she is not worried about competition from the new O’Russei market.

“I’ve been here for quite a long time, and I have a lot of regular customers who always buy from me,” she said.

But several shoppers at Phsar Thmei said they are eager to check out the new market.

“If O’Russei is good, I will go there because it’s closer to my home,” said Than Bunkthet, who regularly shops at Phsar Thmei.

Hok Chakriya, 18, said she is excited to see what O’Russei is like. “If O’Russei has cheaper products and good quality products, I will go there,” she said.

The market made headlines even before it opened, as hundreds of vendors took to the streets to demand their rent be decreased.

The municipality, which manages the market, set booth rates at $1,900 to $3,300 for a 20-year lease, with the money to be paid over the course of five years.

O’Russei vendors said they would pay the rent over five years if it were halved. Vendors also complained the market booths were too small.

The municipality refused to back down, and many vendors said they have no choice but to accept the city’s decision.

“Some vendors who have difficulties have taken out loans, but most of the protesters have calmed down,” Krang Sokeang said.

The new market is part of an overall plan to upgrade the eight major shopping areas in the city, Chea Sophara said. After O’Russei, city officials are considering renovating or building a new market for Phsar Chas and Phsar Boeng Keng Kang.

Construction on O’Russei began in early 1997 but stopped after the factional fighting in July 1997. Construction resumed early last year.

“After we are finished with O’Russei, we will look at the other markets one by one,” Chea Sophara said.

 

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