Around 200 tuk-tuk drivers forced their way into the Angkor Archaeological Park Wednesday, ending a short-lived plan to keep motor-taxis, tuk-tuks and taxis out of the park and away from ferrying people directly to the temples, officials said.
Siem Reap Deputy Governor Chan Sophal said the tuk-tuk drivers pushed open gates and that authorities will be meeting to discuss an official response Friday.
On Monday, hundreds of tuk-tuks blocked the entrance to Angkor to protest the new travel restrictions, which require them to drop their passengers and set down in a designated car park and pay fees on an hourly basis.
“Provincial authorities and the Apsara Authority are discussing the matter,” Chan Sophal said, adding that the original plan to keep local taxi services away from the temples still stands. “There are so many tuk-tuks who want to park and drop tourists at the stairs of Angkor. They have caused many problems,” he said.
A private Chinese company operating 40 electric cars is the only firm now with exclusive rights to take tourists around the park. Chea Saroeun, a tuk-tuk driver contacted in Siem Reap Wednesday, said that “everything was back to normal.” But he blasted authorities for trying to corral drivers in the car park while allowing a private firm a monopoly.
Moeung Sonn, managing director of Eurasie Travel, said it was “nonsense” to ask ordinary drivers in Siem Reap to pay parking fees. “The government should be proud of Khmer people who can earn money from the heritage of our ancestors by providing services. Why should they allow an electric car company to come and make money?”
Ho Vandy, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, said his organization is seeking to delay the entrance restrictions. “We can’t find money to pay for parking for each hour,” he said. “The Apsara [Authority] must consider disallowing a foreign, private firm from capturing the business of local people.”
Soeung Kong, Apsara’s deputy director general, said a solution to the problem will be announced Friday and that it would likely favor local taxi drivers.
“I think we would accept their request,” he said.