Drivers Bemoan Municipality’s Ban on Taxis

The city ban on vehicles transporting merchandise and passengers from entering Phnom Penh has prompted taxi drivers to call for a recall of the directive.

Since it took effect last week, drivers must unload their vehicles at parking lots between 6 km and 12 km outside the city center. During a monthlong trial period drivers violating the rule will only receive a warning.

“I need the municipality to change the directive,” said Sou Kim, who drives between Ban­teay Meanchey province and Phnom Penh along National Route 5. “It’s [now] very difficult for drivers and passengers.”

He said he usually arrives from Banteay Meanchey at night and said passengers fearing robbery are reluctant to take motorcycle taxi drivers into town.

Some vehicles have been able to bypass the new law by bribing guards at the parking lots, he added.

But parking isn’t free either. Sou Kim said he pays 5,000 riel ($1.25) to park his 10-seat mini­bus, adding that the guards charge different amounts for different vehicles but wasn’t aware of what the price difference was.

Hun Chinda, 29, who drives a 12-seat bus along National Route 6A said he has to pay 4,000 riel to 5,000 riel ($1 to $1.25) to park for five minutes and unload. After unloading, he drives into the city to pick up more passengers.

Because passengers now have to pay a motorcycle taxi driver to take them the rest of the way into town, they now want to pay less than the 7,000 riel ($1.75) fare for the trip from Kom­pong Cham’s Tbong Khmum district, he said.

Peng Sokun, deputy director of Municipal Public Works and Trans­portation department, said minibuses pay 3,000 riel ($0.75) for parking and cars pay 1,500 riel ($0.38). Trucks pay 5,000 riel.

He declined to comment on whether prices at the parking lots varied.

Municipal Deputy Chief of Cabinet Heng Vantha said the directive would not be changed, as it marked progress toward improving “good order and safety” and reducing traffic in the capital. He added that the directive had passed the Council of Minis­ters and had won approval from Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The next step, he said, is to bring metered taxis to take passengers around the city and to outlying parking lots.

Though Heng Vantha didn’t know when the taxis would come, he said they will charge “cheap prices” and use the parking area northwest of Phsar Thmei, where unmetered taxis now park.


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