The simmering conflict between private security guards and taxi drivers at the municipality’s taxi station on Chroy Changva peninsula has expanded to involve Russei Keo district policemen deployed there in early March to keep the peace.
The Chroy Changva taxi station, which is operated by the Phanimex Company, has been the site of several violent outbursts between drivers and the guards, whom drivers alleged have extorted money from taxis and smashed their vehicles with batons.
Tension has increased at the station following the death last week of a police officer who was run over by taxi driver on National Route 6A, just outside the entrance to the parking lot, police and witnesses said Monday.
“A taxi driver drove his vehicle fast and violently to hit the policeman directing the taxis to park inside the lot and pay the owner’s fees,” said Ly Lay, a Russei Keo district policemen, who was at the station on Monday.
“This is intentional manslaughter, not an accidental crash,” he added.
But numerous drivers who claimed to have witnessed the death said it was an accident and further proof the station should be closed. “It was an accident that no one ever expected,” said taxi man Hun Davuth, 36. He said the driver didn’t see the policeman who was killed.
Sok Ly, 50, a taxi driver between Phnom Penh and Kompong Thom province, said the parking lot was bad to begin with and should have been shut down long ago.
“I used to work for profit, but now I work to pay the parking lot fees,” he said. “I hope the premier will shut down the parking station.”
Municipal officials have defended the taxi rank operation, saying it is necessary to keep provincial taxis from city streets.