Night market upstarts spark vendor dispute in Siem Reap
Siem Reap Province
ANIGHT market war is brewing in Siem Reap town in response to upstart vendors who have begun erecting new stalls in the middle of a main thoroughfare next to Pub Street.
Collectively called the Siem Reap Night Market, the new stalls have sucked business away from the Angkor Night Market and the Noon Night Market, and blocked a major thoroughfare, critics say.
Seng Phalkun, owner of the Noon Night Market, said he has given provincial officials letters of protest and collected more than 500 thumbprints from vendors at the Noon Night Market and Angkor Night Market, business owners near the Siem Reap Night Market, tuk-tuk drivers, tour guides and taxi drivers.
“What they’re doing is totally wrong because officials have told people not to use the sidewalk to do business, but now they’re using the public street,” Seng Phalkun said.
The new market stalls have been open for the past two weeks and are set up around 5pm every evening in the middle of the road east of Pub Street. Siem Reap town Governor Tep Bunchhay said the stalls are temporary and have not yet been approved by the provincial governor.
“Provincial officials did not give us complete permission, but they told us to run it temporarily,” he said. “We will close it if there are no buyers.”
Bun Tharith, Siem Reap deputy governor, declined to comment.
Huy Leng, owner of the new Siem Reap Night Market, defended the decision to open stalls in the road, saying that it allows vendors to rent space at cheap prices.
“I rent stalls to vendors for US$50 because the people will sell the goods cheaply, clients will buy more, and foreigners will compliment Cambodia on its cheap goods,” he said.
Huy Leng said he has 100 stalls now, and that all of them are rented.
Not all business owners around the Siem Reap Night Market are angry, however.
“Business has been the same. It’s not affecting me that much, but I like that it’s busier around here in general,” said Hon Hsiu Yen, the owner of vintage clothing store Bubble T.
But Khoun Naren, manager and co-owner of Cherry Blossom Boutique, said: “It’s not good. It’s difficult for firemen to enter the street. They pay cheap rent while we pay $1,500. We’re working on fighting it.”