Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Market vendors protest upgrade

Photo by: Sovann Philong
Vendors from Kandal Market protest plans to redevelop the site into an eight-storey business centre. Four separate protests were staged Monday in front of City Hall, including one by families from the Tomnup Toek community.

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
Chhay Channyda and May Titthara

Longtime Kandal Market vendors fear they will be left out of plans for eight-storey centre.

KANDAL Market vendors submitted a petition with more than 700 thumbprints to city authorities Monday demanding that the city block plans to redevelop the market and allow them to continue operating their businesses as usual.

Vendors' representative Leb Ny said 70 percent of the vendors oppose the redevelopment because they are afraid of losing their stalls and businesses after the project is completed.

"None of the vendors agreed with the market development plan, and they do not know anything about the deal between the government and the firm to renovate [it]," she said Monday.

"If the firm develops it, we will be kicked out of the market and might not be able to return."

Koet Chhe, deputy Cabinet chief at City Hall, accepted the vendors' petition, adding that he would pass it on to Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema for consideration.

Market upgrade
A joint venture between a South Korean company and the local company PPMD has put forth plans to build an eight-storey market and business centre on the site.

Chan Sophal, director of the joint venture, said Sunday that Prime Minister Hun Sen and Interior Minister Sar Kheng had agreed in principle to the US$12 million project, which will create around 1,000 stores for market vendors.

Under the agreement, the market would retain the ground floor and part of the first floor of the building, and vendors would keep their current spaces.

Chan Sophal said Monday that the protesters at City Hall were mostly mobile-stand operators worried that they would be displaced by the development. He said the company would build more than 400 stalls for those sellers.

Photo by: Sovann Philong
Kandal Market vendors protest against a redevelopment plan in front of City Hall on Monday.

"People can talk with us about their concerns about the redevelopment, but they do not have any good reasons to protest. They just don't want any redevelopment," Chan Sophal said.

He said the project would take five years to complete.

Relocation dispute
Meanwhile, about 40 residents facing a move from Chamkarmon district's Tomnup Toek community also protested in front of City Hall Monday to ask for a change in the relocation site offered by city authorities.

More than 200 Tomnup Toek families were left homeless after a fire tore through their homes on April 16.

Community representative Toch Sophan said the residents were demanding to be relocated to Dangkor district rather than to Phnom Bat commune in Kandal province because they wanted to be closer to their jobs.

"The reason we don't want to go to Kandal province is because we are construction workers and garbage collectors. If we go there, we will lose our business," he said.

But Tomnup Toek commune Chief Chor Heng said the families would likely end up with the 6-by-10-metre plots of land offered in Phnom Bat commune.

"They rejected the place we're providing, so we will keep negotiating with them," he said, but he added it was unlikely that City Hall would agree to the residents' request.

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