Hard-hit vendors plead for help

Vendors affected by the political crisis want all sides to compromise and solve problems which they say people like them did not start.

The food hawkers and street vendors around the Energy Ministry have complained that their income has slowed to a trickle since the compound came under siege by anti-government protesters two weeks ago.

The ministry is within walking distance of the nearest People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protest site at Lat Phrao intersection.

Smoothies vendor Saeng-ngern Pongchuen, 37, said money was short. She has not made a single baht during the occupation of the intersection.

"I don't understand this. Whoever is the prime minister, I still have to feed myself. What's going on has nothing to do with me. Yet I'm affected by every protest," she said.

Ms Saeng-ngern said Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban should sit down at the negotiating table.

They should meet half way and hold an election to decide who should run the country.

She has lost customers who are mostly staff who have stayed away from the besieged ministry.

Jarin Klampoo, a noodle vendor, said her income of about 1,000 baht a day has more than halved. She is selling fruit juice to make do.

She was not allowed to set up a stall at the protest site. But even if she was, she would also be concerned about safety.

Sa-nga Duangjampa, 40, who sells som tam, said she has dipped into her savings. With no income coming in, she might have problems finding money to pay for her children's tuition and instalments on her pickup truck.

She wants the government to secure a loan for her. In the meantime, she might move back to her native Maha Sarakham province to find work.

Samat Sangthong, 50, a roast chicken vendor, said he has borrowed money from loan sharks to pay for his daily expenses.

Some of the vendors have filed documents seeking help from the government after the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order offered assistance to businesses affected by the protests.

Crime Suppression Division and police stations have been collecting the documents.

Atisorn Oonhasegaka, 50, an executive of Northside Exhibition Co in Sai Mai district of Bangkok, said his company has suffered financial problems because there have been few exhibitions at the Muang Thong Thani convention centre.

His company is hired to set up booths at the centre. The PDRC's blockade of Chaeng Watthana Road serving the convention centre has forced many firms to suspend their exhibition plans.

In a good month, his firm is contracted to organise booths for at least 10 exhibitions, making between 500,000 baht to one million baht a month.

The company's coffers have run dry but it still has to pay 20 workers it employs. It has to retain the headcount because the firm might not find enough workers when the business bounces back.

He said the government should help protest-hit firms by negotiating a debt moratorium with financial institutions.

Video by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd

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