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IDEA asks the government to help informal workers

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
Motorcycle taxi driver takes a nap on his bike in Phnom Penh. KT/Siv Channa

Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) has asked the government to help support street vendors and tuk-tuk drivers as they feel the pinch amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a discussion organised on Wednesday by labour rights group Central, IDEA said street vendors and tuk-tuk drivers have found themselves struggling to earn income since January.

Sim Somol, an IDEA official, said informal workers’ income plummeted by 60 percent due to lack of customers while they are struggling to pay rent and outstanding debt.

Ms Somol said most of the informal workers residing in Phnom Penh hail from provinces.

“Some informal workers returned to their villages for a while, but others have stayed on in Phnom Penh to sell food because they shoulder their families’ burden such as debt, house rent and other expenses,” she said.

She said the government should offer them some food so they could wade through hard times.

“The informal workers have experienced the effect of the COVID-19. They also need help because they have earned little income,” Ms Somol said.

Neb Soeun, one of the street vendors, said that the street vendors could not make ends meet.

Hawking orange and sugarcane juice on Phnom Penh’s streets, Ms Soeun said: “During the COVID-19 outbreak, the streets are so quiet.”

She said she could earn $25 a day before the pandemic, enough for house rent, utility bills and her children’s school fee.

“I have three children and a grandchild. I am the breadwinner earning money to support my family,” she said.

Them Chan, a rice vendor in Kandal market in Phnom Penh, said only a few customers come to buy rice from her every day because some customers are still afraid to come to the market for fear of contracting the virus.

“If we compare the income with pre-pandemic times, it is far different. It was very quiet in March and April,” she said.

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