Minister Says Gov’t Reconsidering Bus System Save Energy

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.


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