Market Chief Defends Development

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Phsar Kandal market representatives are facing criticism for a plan to refurbish the market. KT/ Mai Vireak

Phsar Kandal mobile sellers and store owners in Pnom Penh were given an assurance yesterday by market chief Chip Dana that tenants would not be evicted and stall sizes would remain unchanged in a market development plan facing strong criticism.
“If we agree, it’s okay. If we don’t agree, there is no one forcing us. First, the mobile sellers will have legal title and will not face being kicked out. Second, the location of the stores will not be switched.
“Third, when construction ends, there will be no payment of fees,” Mr. Dina said in a press conference that was attended by about 100 market vendors.
“The size and location of the stalls will remain the same. There is no such case that your store size will be reduced. If they are at the corner, they will remain there,” he added, saying that all development plans are preliminary and that a decision as to whether they will be carried out is underway.
Mr. Dina pointed out that there was a time limit for construction in the development plan with no investment from the private sector. He added that as long as he managed the market, “the property and interests of the brothers and sisters will be ensured.”
The dilapidated Phsar Kandal market, only a few blocks south of Phnom Penh’s Phsar Chas, now houses about 800 stalls. It is held up by cracked columns and covered by a leaking roof that many fear is on the verge of collapse.
“I don’t support dismantling the whole market, but we want the roof of the market repaired. However, we are afraid that those of us who have stores will lose them or have our stores reduced in size after the construction,” a vendor who asked to remain anonymous said.
Another vendor, 53-year-old Taing Kim Eng, said that feelings of unrest on the part of vendors came from a lack of information.  
“The market committee and the district and city authorities have never given us information [on the development] or let us discuss it,” Ms. Kim Eng said.
She then expressed concern that if vendors did not agree on the development plans, a fire could break out in the market.
“Please help us because I am afraid that there will be a fire like at Kratie market. There is always a fire before the construction. We are afraid of the fire,” she said, referring to a fire that broke out at Kratie province’s Chhlong market last week that destroyed 35 stalls. The official cause of the fire was electrical malfunction.
When contacted for comment, City Hall spokesman Chin Bunthoeun hung up on one reporter. City Hall’s chief of administration, Mean Chanyada, declined to comment as he was having a meeting with the city governor.

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