Phnom Penh Municipality ordered the Thursday midnight closure of the privately owned Chroy Changva parking lot, in accordance with an order from Prime Minister Hun Sen, municipal officials said Thursday.
The city called for the closure after Hun Sen alleged that the lot’s owners do not obey the law, officials said. Drivers and government officials, including Co-Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, have long alleged that Chroy Changva workers force vehicles entering and leaving Phnom Penh to stop at the lot— located in Russei Keo district along National Route 6A—and extort money from drivers.
“There are many reasons to close the lot,” said Municipal Cabinet Chief Mann Chhoeun. The municipality repeatedly warned owner Phanimex Co to stop the illegal behavior, but Phanimex disregarded the municipality’s directives, he said. Mann Chhoeun declined to say whether the closure was permanent.
An order to close the lot, signed by Governor Kep Chuktema Wednesday, cited continued complaints from those who drive along National Route 6A. “These activities reflect badly on the image of the local authority of our government,” the letter said.
Phanimex Co director Suy Sophan denied the allegations of extortion and accused other parking lot owners of bribing officials to shut down her station to eliminate competition. “I am very disappointed and find it hard to speak because I invested a lot of money to operate the lot in order to reduce traffic jams and accidents in Phnom Penh,” she said.
Taxi drivers said they supported the government’s decision to close the lot, but worried it would reopen soon. “I am very excited to hear about the closure, but I have little hope that it will be closed permanently,” said Uk Bunthoeurn, who drives the route daily. “Someday, the parking station will reopen.”