Electric Cars for Angkor New Year Fizzle Out

The hundreds of electric cars that were expected to arrive in Siem Reap in time for the millennium celebration will not come until at least next year, officials said Thursday.

Apsara Authority officials had said that the plan to bring 300 exhaust- and noise-free cars to the Angkor temples would attract tourists and help the environment.

But motodops and taxi drivers have complained, saying they will lose their jobs because they will be banned from entering the temple complex when the electric cars arrive.

“[Motodops] don’t have to worry for a long time because the electric cars won’t be coming any time soon,” an Apsara Auth­ority official said Thursday on condition of anonymity.

ABC International Cambodia Co Ltd, a South Korean company based in Phnom Penh, contracted a US company to man­u­facture the cars in what is being touted as a $10-million project.

But production has been de­layed and the battery-operated cars won’t come until at least next year, South Korean Ambassador Kim Won Tae said. He said he had heard that perhaps three cars would be shipped to Cam­bodia for demonstration purposes in time for the millennium celebration.

ABC officials were out of town and could not be reached for comment.

The Apsara Authority official acknowledged more study needs to be done before the electric cars can arrive. One area that needs to be examined is the quality of the roads in the temple complex.

“Right now the roads are only for normal cars, so the government has to study the situation,” said the official, who added there is no written contract yet between Apsara Authority and ABC. “It might take a long time. So don’t be worried because there is no sign the cars are coming soon.”

About 1,000 motodops and taxi drivers in Siem Reap signed a petition last month protesting the arrival of the electric cars. They released another announcement Nov 29, vowing to protest until Apsara Authority and ABC agree to allow motodops and taxis to continue transporting tourists around the temple area.

Tep Vatho, bureau chief of Ap­sara Authority, said if the electric cars arrive, it will cause big problems for Siem Reap. She has ask­ed for more information about the cars, but she says it’s been dif­fi­cult for her to get information from her counterparts in Siem Reap.

Tourism Minister Veng Serey­vuth said the electric cars project may be beneficial, but only if motodops and taxi drivers aren’t banned from the temple area.

“Tourism is all about raising the living standards of people and providing jobs, not taking jobs away,” he said.


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