About 30 vendors at Ra Market in Banteay Meanchey’s Poipet city protested in front of the market yesterday over plans by the owner to hike rental fees and make changes to previous payment plans offered to those unable to pay for their stalls upfront.
Previously, vendors in the market were required to pay $2,500 for a five-year contract to operate a stall. Those that could not afford the fee were allowed to deposit $590 dollars and pay the owner $25 per month, totalling $2,090 for five years.
Vendors protested yesterday after learning that going forward, the owner, Ly Mary, would only be offering five-year contracts to those who could pay the $2,500 upfront.
Those that cannot pay the $2,500 upfront will have to pay an $800 deposit, and then $25 per month, for a three-year contract.
The change amounts to a hike in rental fees for the poorest vendors, from $2,090 to more than $2,500 for a five-year contract.
Men Saroeuth, a shoes vendor and representative of market traders, said the new rules – which will take affect next month – are a slap in the face to vendors considering the state of some rental stalls.
“We had to pay money to install ceilings, doors, fans, and lamps,” he said, noting that those whose stalls were decrepit were the vendors on payment plans.
Those that paid the rental fee in full upfront were provided with well-equipped stalls, he added.
“We would like to keep the old rental agreement,” he said. “We just want a resolution and justice.”
Ms Mary, the market owner, said she was open to negotiations when contacted yesterday by phone.
“I have not been able to accept their demands at this stage,” she said. “This is a private market, we have the right to make decisions. We invested a lot in the market and the price of construction materials and labour is currently high.”
However, Ms Mary added she will negotiate with the vendors, in particular those strapped for cash.
Poipet Governor Ngor Meng Chroun said the authorities plan to mediate a meeting between the two sides to ensure an agreement is reached.
“We will invite both sides to discuss with each other and find a solution this week,” he said.