Gov’t To Address Concerns of Taxi Drivers

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s adviser Om Yentieng announced Wednes­­day he would help establish a committee to address the con­cerns of taxi drivers who pro­tested this week against new tolls im­posed by AZ Investment Co Ltd on National Route 4. Mean­while two taxi drivers who participated in Tuesday’s demonstration against the toll were charged with inciting others to com­mit public disorder in Kandal provincial court.

Ten representatives of the taxi dri­vers met with Om Yentieng, who is also director of the government’s Human Rights Committee, at his Phnom Penh office on Wednesday morning.

Om Yentieng said he will ask De­puty Prime Min­ister Sok An to bring taxi driver representatives to the table with AZ Investment and government officials.

Taxi drivers blocked tollbooths Mon­day and Tuesday demanding that AZ Investment lift the charges in­troduced this week. Taxis are now required to pay $1.40 to take Na­tional Route 4 from Phnom Penh to Sihanouk­ville.

AZ Investment, chaired by CPP law­maker Ung Bun Hauv, was granted a concession to maintain the road and to collect fees under a deal opposition lawmakers charge lacks transparency. “We will ask the company to re­duce the prices,” Om Yentieng told re­port­ers after the meeting. “If the com­pany cannot reduce prices, we al­­so do not know what to do.”

He said the government will re­duce financial pressures on drivers by eliminating illegal police checkpoints and illegal parking fees on city streets.

Taxi driver representative Kim Gi­vorn said drivers will stop holding protests ahead of the committee’s decision. Drivers Thorn Than and Om Sam Ol were charged un­der Arti­cle 60 of the Untac law, “In­cite­­ment Not Leading to Com­mis­sion of a Crime or Mis­de­mean­or,” for their participation in pro­tests Tues­­­day. “We have no law to charge people who hold a demonstration,” Kan­dal provincial Chief Prose­cutor Chheng Phath said.

One driver, Sok Kunthy, was beaten bloody by police Tuesday. Chan Soveth, spokesman for rights group Adhoc, said Adhoc will file a complaint in Kandal prov­incial court seeking $1,000 from police on Sok Kunthy’s be­half.


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