One side of the streets around the former Freedom Park in central Phnom Penh have been cleared of parked cars in a municipal campaign, resulting in frustrated car salesmen and noticeably smoother traffic.
The roads around the large expanse of concrete in the capital’s Daun Penh district—the site of months of protest following contested 2013 national elections—have been a popular spot to park and display cars for sale for more than a decade, according to vendors in the area.
But the park-side of the streets was cleared of cars on Saturday, following an ultimatum from Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng last week, and remained that way on Sunday under the watchful eye of police.
“The goal is to reduce traffic jams,” Nhet Sam Ath, district traffic police chief, said on Sunday as he sat in a plastic chair on the edge of the park.
“When the cars were here, passengers complained,” he said. “When the pavement is clear, the traffic is smoother.”
Mr. Sam Ath said that sellers had voluntarily moved their cars and the park was clear when he arrived on Saturday, adding that he appreciated the cooperation of the vendors.
The streets leading off the park and around the area, however—as well as spaces directly across the street from the park—still sported parked cars with phone numbers in their windows on Sunday, and salesmen could be seen resting in the shade of the park, waiting for customers.
One vendor, who declined to give his name for fear of retribution from authorities, said he had parked his cars nearby and would lead interested customers to them. However, he said that no one had visited as of on Sunday afternoon, and expressed concern that renting a new space to park his cars would be prohibitively expensive.
“How can we afford that?” he asked, claiming that a place to park a handful of cars would cost several thousand dollars a month.
Khun Socheata, a vendor who has about eight cars for sale parked in front of her house across the street from the park, also said on Sunday that she thought nearby roads were next in the municipal government’s crosshairs.
“They haven’t told us yet, but I expect it,” she said on Sunday. “It will affect us a lot.”
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