Prime Minister Hun Sen responded to questions by opposition lawmaker Son Chhay over the AZ company’s controversial contract to levy tolls on National Route 4 in letter dated March 16.
The letter sent to National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh defended the contract which allowed AZ, chaired by CPP parliamentarian Ung Bun Hauv, to charge tolls on the road.
Hun Sen said the public can see the signs and road safety buildings that the company has put up, so “saying that it is making cake without any flour has no basis.”
The letter said that renovation and broadening of the road is now complete on 200 km to 230 km, from Sihanoukville to Ang Snoul district in Kandal province.
Hun Sen also addressed the concerns of taxi drivers who were beaten by police while protesting the $1.40 one-way tolls from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh, which went into effect Jan 1.
“The Royal Government…asks those people to understand because the works of constructing, maintaining the route needs a large budget,” he wrote.
Of the several hundred families complaining about the widening of the road, Hun Sen also asked for understanding.
“The Royal Government hopes that those people will understand that the action of the Royal Government is to serve the interest of the nation and all people. The Royal Government would like to thank people who have cooperated to implement this contract with high national patriotic spirit,” he wrote.
Son Chhay said he was disappointed with the prime minister’s answer, adding that Hun Sen’s claims show he is “out of touch with reality.”
“We have petitions with thousands of thumbprints of people angry that the government does not respect the land law…and instead sends police to beat them. But the prime minister thanks them for being so kind to give up their land,” Son Chhay said.
Chan Thun, a taxi driver representative charged with negotiating with AZ on the toll charges, said Monday that as far as he knows, no negotiations have occurred in months.
“The taxi drivers stopped the protest because they faced many problems,” he said. “During the protest two drivers were detained and a car was taken. The driver had to pay $500 in black money to get the car back. No receipt.”