People standing within a few meters of the National Assembly’s open double doors basked in the air conditioning last week while lawmakers inside debated Cambodia’s energy crisis and called for conservation.
Finance Minister Keat Chhon, who admitted that the National Assembly itself could be more energy efficient in ways as simple as closing its doors, said Thursday that the government is reconsidering a private bus system to service Phnom Penh and cover routes to the provinces.
He said he hopes Cambodians will follow the lead of the Americans who are increasingly using public transportation because of the skyrocketing price of petrol.
If Cambodians don’t “get economical and save energy,” they will face economic hardship, Keat Chhon added.
Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Keo Remy ridiculed Keat Chhon’s suggestions, saying that if the government wants to help people it should lower the price of petrol.
“If the buses were put in place, would his Excellency Keat Chhon stop using his car?” Keo Remy asked. “It is easier to use a personal car. And when more buses come, motorbike taxi drivers will find it harder to make a living,” he said.
A 2001 Japanese-funded city-bus pilot program led nowhere; and Ho Wah Genting, the Malaysian company with exclusive rights to run Phnom Penh city buses, has been unable to come up with a viable service formula.
Keat Chhon and Industry Minister Suy Sem said the government must also encourage Cambodians to look for renewable alternative energy, including fuel made from potatoes.