Business wasn’t so good Thursday morning for Theng Kunthea. Three days earlier, she and her stall were kicked off of Sihanouk Boulevard near Olympic Stadium, casualties of a new city directive to beautify the city and create social order.
So on Thursday the 28-year-old mother of two had set up shop inside the walls of nearby Wat Moha Montrei, where her business has suffered dramatically.
“I cannot make good sales here,” she said, “because there are not many people.” She said that while she was on the street, she garnered as much as 100,000 riel per day. But inside the wat, she made closer to just a few thousand per day.
City officials and police said Thursday that Phnom Penh Vice Governor Mab Sarin (CPP) ordered the directive Dec 27. It calls for all street vendors, from licensed newspaper dealers to unlicensed fruit shake sellers, to move off of all major roads, including Sihanouk and Monivong Boulevards.
“All people along those roads cannot sell their goods in front of their houses,” Sok Lokhena, deputy chief of cabinet for the city, said Thursday, adding the directive was not a temporary measure for millennium security.
The move will eventually affect four districts along two of Phnom Penh’s busiest roads. District governors and police have been asked to remove people along the two boulevards in the districts of Chamkar Mon, Don Penh, Meanchey and Prampi Makara, according to Samath Thoeun, district governor of Prampi Makara.
Police have already started to act. In addition to moving 30 some vendors away from Olympic Stadium, police late last week displaced the newspaper and food vendors from a strip of Sihanouk Boulevard near Independence Monument.
So far, not all have been moved. But vendors on much of Sihanouk Boulevard have been, and on Wednesday night, where fruit shake and sandwich stands used to be in abundance around Independence Monument, the strip was abandoned. Where fluorescent lights usually greeted hungry or thirsty visitors, there was only darkness.
You Pal, a municipal traffic policeman on Sihanouk Boulevard, said Thursday that he and his colleagues were responsible for keeping a 100-meter area around the monument clear of vendors, permanently. He said he expected other police to be deployed around the city doing the same.
The sweep cut business in half for Pheng Srey Peou, who sold English and Khmer language newspapers at her previous location near the monument, collecting around 100,000 riel per day. She had been forced to move around the corner, to Street 51.
She said the street was too small, making it difficult for customers to stop their cars and buy papers. Her stand had a fresh coat of paint, and the bottom was securely cemented to the sidewalk. As per the rules, she was at her new spot for good.
(Additional reporting by Saing Soenthrith)