About 150 street vendors gathered in Phnom Penh yesterday to mark International Street Vendors Day and called on the authorities to treat them better.
Vorn Pov, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association, said street vendors are faced with many problems.
He said the government in 2016 issued a directive banning local officials from taking money from street vendors, but the directive was not followed.
“We know many street vendors make huge contributions to the development of the national economy…through paying taxes,” Mr Pov said, noting they also help the public by providing cheaper meal options.
“If we look at the working conditions and situations of street vendors, they still face problems involving safety, sanitation and their children…they are also facing evictions and violence,” Mr Pov added. “They also get sick when they do not have money for treatments and they do not have social protection.”
Mr Pov said the government must fully implement all of its social protection policies through social assistance and social security programmes. He also said the government should establish care centres for the children of street vendors to stay in while their parents work.
He said all forms of violence against street vendors must cease and barriers must be erected to protect them from traffic.
IDEA has estimated there are about one million street vendors in the Kingdom.
Moeun Tola, executive director of the Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights, yesterday said street vendors must be treated as human beings and International Street Vendors Day is proof street vendors are globally accepted.
He said street vendors must be courageous in expressing their rights.
“Do not be discouraged, do not be afraid to express your ideas, you are all known by the world,” Mr Tola said.
He said street vendors should work together and work on improving livelihoods and working conditions.
Ner Ton, a vegetable seller in Doeum Kor market in Phnom Penh, yesterday said she has been a street vendor for more than ten years.
She said the government must pay more attention to street vendors and help create a suitable place to sell her goods.
Ms Ton said the authorities recently moved her into the market after she was told not to sell on streets.
“It is not good enough yet for us street vendors, but it has been a bit better because we have organisational officials who help us,” she said. “The authorities have been paying attention since we began protesting against them.”