The Sihanoukville municipal administration demolished 49 illegal stalls built on pavements in the Otres area at Village VI, Commune IV on Monday.
The law enforcement was carried out after stall owners twice reneged on their agreement with the authorities to remove their stalls before the Pchum Ben festive period.
They were last given a deadline until Monday based on an agreement with the stall owners.
The municipal administration official in charge of public administration and environment Lim Pheaktrey told The Post on Monday that the stall owners disregarded the agreement, forcing the authority to carry out the demolition.
“They did not comply with the agreement and seem to be fearless of the police. Therefore, we decided to use machinery to demolish their stalls,” said Pheaktrey.
During the demolition, some stall owners disagreed with the authority’s decision to demolish their stalls. Nevertheless, the municipal authority could not allow illegal stalls on the pavement since it affected public order and the town’s environment.
“The stall owners held a protest but we have to enforce the law. Although we were not able to demolish all the stalls today [Monday], we will tear down all the stalls soon,” said Pheaktrey.
Pheaktrey said the owners built 49 small and big stalls and put two huge containers as well as two big machines on the pavement.
The Post could not get in touch with any of the stall owners to comment on the matter.
Preah Sihanouk provincial coordinator for human rights group Adhoc Cheap Sotheary supported the demolition by the municipal administration.
However, she requested the authorities enforce the law peacefully to avoid damage to stall owners’ belongings and interest.
“I do not support those who built stalls on the pavement since this affects security, public order and also the lives of those living at the area.
“However, I urge the authorities to enforce the law peacefully because these stall owners who are living on the pavement are also very poor.
“Therefore, if a compromise cannot be agreed, they should negotiate further for a better outcome,” said Sotheary.
Last week, the authorities said people from Takeo and Kampot provinces had built small stalls within three to four months on the public pavement.
This, the authorities said, affected the town’s beauty and environment, and had the potential to evolve into a land dispute in the future if the stalls were not demolished.