Vendors at Borei Keila Protest Planned Market, Bar Officials

Approximately 60 people selling groceries and small snacks under three social housing units in Ph­nom Penh’s Borei Keila community blocked a group of Prampi Makara district authorities and Phanimex company representatives from measuring the area for a market Wednesday, protesters and officials said.

District Governor Som Sovann said that as part of a social land concession, more than 400 families have moved into three buildings in the community since 2008. Some of those families set up businesses on the ground floor, he added.

“But some people are using wire to grab space on the ground floor hall to run businesses as well as to use as accommodation,” Mr So­vann said. “At the same time, because of the disordered business set-up, some bad adults and gangsters have gathered in the hall for drug use.”

He explained that Phnom Penh municipal officials have granted Suy Sophan, owner and director of the Phanimex company, which built the units, the right to build proper market stalls on the ground floor of all three buildings.

Each stall will measure 2 meters by 1.2 meters, and will be rented at a $10 monthly fee, according to Mr Sovann. “I don’t think the rental fee is expensive,” he said.

However, a protestor who would only give her name as Sothea said that she was demonstrating be­cause she could not afford the rental fee.

“The space on the ground floor is our community property,” she said. “Why are the authorities colluding with this wealthy businesswoman to hurt our family economy? The revenue from selling small things is just enough for our day-to-day needs.”

Chan Pheakdey, 45, who sells porridge under the building where she lives, said that she could only earn $5 each day from her business—money that she needs to feed her five children.

“I am really concerned that when they build the stalls, they will rent them to outsiders who could pay the company higher rental fees,” she said. “We are an impoverished community. How can we afford the fee?”

Ms Sophan could not be reached for comment Wednesday.



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