Saphan Lek clearout continues as vendors plead for more time (Updated)

Saphan Lek clearout continues as vendors plead for more time (Updated)

Workmen on orders of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) began dismantling khlong-side Saphan Lek market. (Photos by Apichart Jinakul)
Workmen on orders of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) began dismantling khlong-side Saphan Lek market. (Photos by Apichart Jinakul)

Street vendors at Saphan Lek and Saphan Han markets are asking to continue trading for three more months, as the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) continues tearing down their illegally-built structures.

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Noon update

Thai PBS reports that BMA officials this morning continued removing illegally-built structures, again focusing only on stalls and booths already vacated. Only a total of eight stalls have been completely removed so far. This morning the work was slowed because officials from the electricity department had to remove electrical connections, many of them connected to several stalls in the area. There was no resistance this morning and city officials may decide as early as this afternoon how long remaining vendors may stay.

Vendors plead for more time

Traders in debt, dislike relocation options

Ariane Kupferman-Sutthavong

Street vendors at Saphan Lek and Saphan Han markets are asking to continue trading for three more months, as the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) began tearing down their illegally-built structures.

Around 370 municipality workers, district representatives, police and soldiers were deployed Tuesday morning to start removing illicit stalls and booths encroaching on Khlong Ong-Ang, a registered historical site.

The vendors petitioned BMA deputy-govenor Pol Gen Assawin Kwanmuang, BMA adviser Pol Lt Gen Vichai Sangparpai and members of the working panel overseeing clearance of the area, seeking a three-month extension before they are forced out.

From early morning on Tuesday, hundreds of traders and shop owners pleaded with authorities like BMA deputy-govenor Pol Gen Assawin Kwanmuang to give them just a little more time – but their requests failed to move officials from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA).

Vendors argued that City Hall only gave them 15 days' notice to leave the market, which was an insufficient time to relocate.

"We will move out. We only want the BMA to give us time and show fairness," said Kusarin Supngamsiri, a vendor at Saphan Lek.

Many shopkeepers had just ordered new goods to sell over New Year and need to clear their stocks before they are able to move, she said.

According to Ms Kusarin, nearly 205 of the vendors at Saphan Lek and Saphan Han – around 100 stalls out of 500 – have left the area, but others don't know where to go.

The BMA agreed to only remove booths that have been vacated for the time being and hold talks with vendors over the remaining stalls.

However, Pol Lt Gen Vichai did not say how much longer he would allow them to stay.

Vendors have few options in the neighbourhood, and while some have decided to rent space in nearby malls such as Mega Plaza and Saphan Lek Square, the costs there are higher, said Chanya Suravottinak, a watch-seller.

This will force them to raise their prices, and many fear they will lose customers, she said.

Saphan Lek and Saphan Han markets are famous for their cheap toys and electronic devices.

Ms Chanya added it would take her about a month to set up a new shop before she can open her business elsewhere.

She asked for the same extension which was given to Khlong Thom vendors to be applied there.

Vendors say they will move out but they want to be allowed to sell through the high-volume holiday season which ends in January.

Vendors have spent large sums acquiring and setting up their shops, and some newcomers – who denied knowing the market was encroaching on public land – said they were still carrying debt due to their investments.

"Many of us have families to support. If we are forced out, we won't earn any income," said a noodle vendor.

Vendors asked the BMA for more information about new areas where they could relocate.

Ms Kusarin added that city officials had never taken the vendors to see designated areas offered to them, nor asked if they were satisfied with them.

BMA officials argued that vendors had been aware of the need to move since a 2000 cabinet resolution ordered the area  cleared.

Meanwhile, some vendors said City Hall never acted upon that order until last month and claimed BMA officials have been illicitly collecting rent from them.

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  • acquire: to get; to obtain - ได้มาซึ่ง
  • adviser (noun): a person who gives advice, especially somebody who knows a lot about a particular subject - ที่ปรึกษา
  • allow: to let somebody/something do something; to let something happen or be done - อนุญาต, ยอมรับ
  • argue: to give reasons why you think that something is right/wrong, true/not true, etc, especially to persuade people that you are right - ห้เหตุผล, อ้างเหตุผล
  • aware (adj): knowing that something exists, or to have knowledge or experience of a particular thing - ทราบ, รับรู้
  • Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA): the local government of Bangkok - กรุงเทพมหานคร
  • booth: a small tent or temporary structure at a market, an exhibition or a fairground, where you can buy things, get information or watch something - แผงลอย,ห้องเล็ก, บูธ
  • cabinet: the group of government ministers who make and approve government policy - คณะรัฐมนตรี
  • cheap: costing little money or less money than you expected - ถูก
  • City Hall: a city government, in this case, the Bangkok city government - กรุงเทพมหานคร
  • claim: to say that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it - อ้าง
  • clearance: the process of removing things that are not wanted or used and often selling them - การทำให้หมดไป, การเอาออกไป
  • customer (noun): a person or an organisation that buys something from a shop/store or business - ลูกค้า
  • debt (noun): an amount of money that you owe - หนี้, นี้สิน
  • denied (verb): said that something is not true or did not happen - ปฏิเสธ
  • deploy: (of soldiers, police, etc.) to put in place ready for action - ส่งทหารตำรวจเข้าประจำการ
  • deputy: a person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation - รอง
  • designated: marked, separated, or given a name for a particular purpose - ถูกกำหนด
  • device (noun): a machine or piece of equipment that does a particular job - อุปกรณ์ เครื่องมือ เครื่องจักร
  • due to: because of - เนื่องจาก
  • elsewhere: another place or other places - ที่อื่น
  • encroach: to gradually enter, cover or take control of more and more of an area of land or sea - บุกรุก, ล่วงล้ำ
  • extension: making a period of time longer - การขยายออกไป
  • fairness (noun): the quality of treating people equally or in a way that is reasonable - ความเป็นธรรม
  • for the time being: for the present time, but probably not for a long time - พลาง
  • goods: things that are produced to be sold; possessions that can be moved - สินค้า, สิ่งของ
  • historical site (noun): an important place or building in history, often officially recognized as important by the government and marked with a sign or plaque - สถานที่ทางประวัติศาสตร์
  • illegally: in a way that is against the law - อย่างผิดกฎหมาย
  • illicit: against the law - ผิดกฎหมาย
  • illicitly: done in a way that is against the law - ผิดกฎหมาย
  • income: money that someone gets from working or from investing money - รายได้
  • insufficient: not enough - ไม่เพียงพอ
  • investment (noun): the act of investing money in something - การลงทุน
  • meanwhile: at the same time - ในเวลาเดียวกัน
  • move: to cause somebody to have strong feelings, especially of sympathy or sadness - ดลใจ, เร้าอารมณ์
  • municipality: a town, city or district with its own local government - เทศบาล
  • neighbourhood (noun): a particular area of a city or town or other area - ละแวก, ย่าน
  • newcomers (noun): people who are new to some situation or job or place - คนมาใหม่, สมาชิกใหม่, คนที่เพิ่มมาถึง
  • notice: information or a warning about something that is going to happen - การแจ้ง, การแจ้งล่วงหน้า
  • options: choices - ทางเลือก
  • oversee (verb): (past form: oversaw) to watch or organise a job or an activity to make certain that it is being done correctly - คุมงาน,ควบคุม
  • panel: a group of people who make decisions or judgments - คณะกรรมการ
  • petition: to ask someone in authority to do something - ยื่นคำร้อง
  • plead: to ask for something in an emotional way - ขอร้อง, วิงวอน
  • public: open to people in general - สาธารณะ
  • registered (adj): to be on an official list; to be on an official list of names of people who are allowed to do something, e.g., vote, study, sell something, stay in a hotel etc - ซึ่งลงทะเบียนไว้
  • relocation: the process of moving someone or something to a new place - การย้ายที่ใหม่
  • remaining: continuing to be present; still existing - ยังเหลืออยู่
  • remove (verb): to take something away - เอาออก
  • rent: paying money for the use of something for a period of time - ค่าเช่า
  • rent: to pay money for the use of something for a period of time - เช่า
  • representative: someone who has been chosen or elected by a person or group to vote, give opinions, or make decisions for them - ผู้แทน
  • request: an act of asking for something in a formal or polite way - การขอร้อง
  • resistance: a refusal to accept something or allow it to happen - การต่อต้าน, การขัดขืน
  • resolution: an official decision that is made after a group or organisation have voted - มติ
  • satisfied: pleased because you have achieved something or because something that you wanted to happen has happened - พอใจ
  • shopkeeper (noun): a person who owns or manages a shop/store, usually a small one - เจ้าของร้าน
  • space: an area or a place that is empty or that can be moved about freely - ที่ว่าง
  • stall: a large table or a small building that is open at the front, used for selling things (or for giving people information) - รถ หรือแผงขายของ
  • stocks (noun): the total amount of something that is available for people to use - ปริมาณ/จำนวนที่สะสมไว้
  • structure: something large such as a building or a bridge that is built from different parts - โครงสร้าง
  • sum: an amount of something, especially money - จำนวนเงิน
  • tear down: to intentionally destroy a building or other structure because it is not being used or it is not wanted any more - รื้อ
  • trader: someone who buys and sells things - ผู้ค้า
  • vacate: to leave a place - ออกจาก, ออกไปจาก, ย้ายออก
  • vendors: people who sell things, e.g., food or newspapers, usually outside on the street - พ่อค้าแม่่ค้าหาบแร่แผงลอย
  • volume (noun): an amount of something - ปริมาณ
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