New Rules, Location Cut Into Profits, Tour Boat Operators Say

Boat operators expressed frustration yesterday over costly fees being charged by the newly formed Phnom Penh Tourist Water Association, which decided last month to charge $3 every time a boat departs from the new landing station near Daun Penh district’s Street 94.

Operators say the PPTWA started to collect the money from Jan 18–a day after all tour boats were required to land at the new location–and the additional costs are deeply affecting their profit margins.

“I pay three dollars for every time my boat departs,” said Nath Tha, 46, a boat operator and member of the PPTWA. “The association has not let us know about revenue and expenditure being made.”

Ms Tha added that since she had started making payments to the PPTWA she had seen no improvements to the dock, which operators say would be insufficient during the rainy season.

She said that PPTWA should pay for the new dock if they are going to continue taking $3 from boat operators every time they take customers on a trip.

Boat operators say they made more money before Jan 18 when their vessels were allowed to dock anywhere along the riverbank and tourists could choose which boat they wanted to take.

“Before I could make $150 per day. Now I only make $50,” said Nos Ibrahim, 65, an owner of two boats along the riverfront.

Yien Srey, 37, another boat owner, said: “To collect three dollars is too expensive. I have to be responsible for nine people in my family.”

PPTWA Director Ly Puthy rejected the complaints yesterday, saying the association was in fact paying for a number of measures such as purchasing uniforms and walkie-talkies for staff members.

“We pay wages for our staff as well,” he said.

He said PPTWA should not be responsible for constructing a new dock for boat operators.

Hei Bavy, general director of Phnom Penh Autonomous Port, said the new dock would be built near where government palace currently stands.

“We will have a meeting to discuss this matter next week,” he said, adding who will foot the bill had yet to be decided.

Boat operators and port officials are still negotiating parking prices at the new docking area, with prices ranging from $10 for a small boat to $20 for a big boat per month.


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