Vendors Tell Governor to Leave Market Alone

Phnom Penh Governor Pa So­cheatvong paid a visit to Phsar Doeum Kor market on Friday to speak with vendors about plans to demolish and reconstruct one of the city’s central hubs of commerce.

The visit comes after hundreds of vendors piled into City Hall on July 22 to demand that it hold off on plans to rebuild the market until their 10-year contracts expire in 2021, but seems to have been in vain, with most rejecting the governor’s efforts to convince them otherwise. 

Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong, second from right, tours Phsar Doeum Kor market on Friday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong, second from right, tours Phsar Doeum Kor market on Friday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“The market we will build will not require vendors to pay because it is a state investment,” he told dozens of vendors after a tour of the market, which wholesales to smaller markets throughout the city.

“I want to help but if you think it is not time, I will turn back,” he said.

In unison, the vendors around the governor responded: “It is not yet time.”

“Ok, no problem,” Mr. Socheat­vong said, continuing to make his pitch for why the market needed an overhaul.

“I think that if an accident happened, the [aisles] are narrow inside and we would just run and there is a danger of a stampede,” he said. “We have to think that modern places must have many exits.”

A vendor interrupted the governor’s public safety plea.

“We absolutely will not have our stalls demolished, wait until contracts end in 2021,” she said.

Another vendor noted that the market has never had a fire, and asked why the governor was so concerned about such an event.

“At this point I want to ask you: A fire has never occurred here but every time I see that the government wants to demolish for development, a fire happens.”

Mr. Socheatvong said he was simply preparing for the worst.

“We always imagine challenging issues and what would happen, so our concern is managing public order inside,” he said, adding that City Hall would not press ahead with the project if vendors objected.

“If there are a few people who reject the plan, we will not do it, please believe me,” he said.

“We do not believe,” the vendors responded.

narim@cambodiadaily.com

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