An opposition lawmaker called on Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema to close the Chroy Changva taxi station in Russei Keo district, claiming it is an illegal checkpoint used to extort money from taxi drivers entering the city.
If no action is taken, wrote Son Chhay in a letter to the governor on Wednesday, he will lead a demonstration of more than 1,000 taxi drivers in front of City Hall.
Kep Chuktema could not be contacted Thursday.
The Chroy Changva taxi station, located about 300 meters from Chroy Changva bridge on National Route 6A, is owned by Phanimex Co Ltd. Buses and other large vehicles traveling to Phnom Penh are supposed to stop at the station—set up by the city in an attempt to reduce incoming traffic—and transfer to minibuses for the journey into the city center.
However, Son Chhay alleged that the taxi station’s guards are forcing all drivers coming into the city to pay between $0.75 to $5.00, and then allowing them pass into the city.
The guards are not supposed to charge more than $0.25 per vehicle in the station, arriving or departing Phnom Penh, he said.
“That station is like an illegal checkpoint to kidnap money from vehicle drivers,” he said. Son Chhay also alleged that the station’s guards have gotten into fights with taxi drivers who they have forced to stop at the station.
The station owner denied Son Chhay’s allegations and said she had recently submitted an investment proposal to also start a metered taxi service in the city.
“I don’t care what an opposition lawmaker thinks about my business,” Suy Sophon, president of Phanimex, said Thursday. “My business is legal. I’m not worried at all about who wants to close the business,” she said.
Suy Sophon said Phanimex plans to invest millions of dollars in 500 metered taxis that will operate in the city.
“The price of the metered taxi will not be higher than other private taxis or motor-dop,” she said.
The city plans to employ local companies to set up similar taxi stop-off stations on the approach to the city on National Routes 2, 4 and 5, said Heng Vantha, municipality deputy cabinet chief.
“Our target is to stop buses from the provinces at a bus station,” he said. “Otherwise, it causes a traffic problem in the city.”
The city wanted to stop trucks carrying goods or buses from the provinces from coming into the capital because the city already has “too many vehicles,” said Hean Narin, deputy director of the municipality’s public and transport department.