Phnom Penh Plans to Clear Shops From Streets, Sidewalks

City Hall’s latest plan to solve its traffic and pedestrian woes involves forcibly removing food carts, shake shacks, petrol stands and other small businesses operating on city streets and sidewalks.

In a directive signed by Phnom Penh’s new municipal governor Khuong Sreng on Tuesday, city police will take action against vendors, construction projects or parking that encroaches on the city’s roads.

Bedding spills onto the sidewalk from a storefront on Street 217 in Phnom Penh on Wednesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“If they insist on running their business on the sidewalk even after negotiation, we will confiscate their business to either a district police station or municipal police station,” City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey said.

Since changing the vast sales network on the city’s sidewalks will take time, the authorities are implementing a two-week notification period. After that, sidewalk businesses will be expected to take up only one-third of the sidewalk, leaving the remaining space for pedestrians.

After the grace period, police will enforce the rules, according to the directive.

Even the one-third requirement is only temporary, Mr. Measpheakdey said, as the entire sidewalk will eventually be off limits to vendors, parked cars and motorbikes. No timeline was set for when sidewalks must be vendor-free, he added.

Officials have chosen 11 main streets to implement the new policy first, including Monivong, Russian Federation, Kampuchea Krom, Mao Tse Tung, Sihanouk, Nehru, Norodom, Monireth, Charles De Gaulle and Sisowath boulevards, Tep Phon Road and streets 271 and 70.

Local authorities in all 12 districts are expected to take part in advising people about the new policy.

Heng Soliny, a 29-year-old vendor at the corner of Monivong Boulevard and Street 102, is concerned the new policy will make it hard for her to sell fruit.

“I would have to switch from one place to another, and it is hard to find a good location,” she said. “There does not seem to be a permanent solution coming from the authorities.”

Inn Sreykhouch, who sells bread pate from a nearby cart, said that the new policy will limit the business area and raise competition among street sellers to get a good spot.

With competition already high among vendors in the area, she worries it will lead to bickering and unfairness.

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