Monday, June 15, 2009

Russian Market Update

Surprise surprise. The owners of the shops at the Russian Market did not get to meet with PM Hun Sen after all. They had wanted to meet him today to discuss the future of the Russian Market but did not manage to schedule a meeting. So things are still in limbo.

The shops re-opened on Sunday after closing for 2 days. To be clear, the market itself was not shut - the entrances were all left open. Only the shops had their shutters down and some shopkeepers stood in front of their shut stalls. Reth, too, stood outside our stall to wait for the tourist who did manage to pick up her custom-made bag on Friday. Shopkeepers who wanted to keep stalls open were told off by others to shut.

This is what I know: On Friday, the market police (there is a police station in the market, in case you never noticed) gave notices to some sellers to meet with them to discuss the plans for the Russian Market. Word got out and other shopkeepers who were not invited got annoyed. They decided that if any meeting was to take place, all the stakeholders should be present.

The shopkeepers were told a private company wanted to replace the Russian Market with - get this - a supermarket. The shopkeepers told the market police it was dumb idea because there are supermarkets everywhere and they should instead keep the Russian Market as it is, old and authentic, because that is what tourists like.

It seems the vendors will all be moved to the new market being built at Beoung Trabek. No one is happy because the place is not completed, it is out of the way and tourists do not know where it is. We were told the Russian Market will be gone in 2012 but at the moment it is all hearsay.

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