Phnom Penh Forbids Commercial Ads on Tuk-Tuks

Phnom Penh Municipality has ordered all tuk-tuk drivers to cease carrying all forms of commercial advertising in order to preserve “public order” and the beauty of the capital, according to a municipal directive obtained Monday.

The only adverts that tuk-tuk drivers may display on their vehicles are those educating the public about social issues, Municipal Governor Kep Chuktema said Monday, though he declined further comment.

“[T]o guarantee public order and beauty, City Hall would like to advise three-wheel motorbike owners who are carrying all forms of commercial advertisements that they must remove them immediately,” Kep Chuktema said in a directive issued in November.

Tuk-tuk drivers may only carry adverts raising public awareness on issues such as bird flu, tuberculosis, AIDS and domestic violence, the directive states.

Municipal Traffic Police Chief Tin Prasoeur, whose officers are implementing the order, said Monday that banning corporate advertising of products such as cigarettes on tuk-tuks is a good thing.

“Smoking cigarettes does not serve the society,” he said. The tuk-tuk drivers should apply for licenses before they ask to start running adverts again, he added.

“Let them have number plates first,” he said, before declining further comment.

Tuk-tuk driver Nuon Vibol, 30, said traffic police removed an advert from his vehicle a month ago, from which he was paid between $5 and $7 a month by a local hairdressers’ salon.

“It’s bad for business,” he said.

One tuk-tuk driver said on condition of anonymity that he took down his advert for a restaurant after a fellow driver was stopped and fined by police.

“My friend got stopped and police asked for $7.50,” he said.

“He only makes $5 a month from the sign.”

Barb Braniss, the 30-year-old Australian manager of the Lazy Gecko Cafe in the Boeng Kak backpacker area, said she had hired four tuk-tuks to advertise for the restaurant until the police started clamping down in December.

“It was an effective and cheap form of advertising we no longer have,” she said, adding that she could not see the logic of the new legislation.

“They’re private vehicles, so, I don’t understand,” she said.

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