A private firm has set up a checkpoint in Mondolkiri province and is charging vehicles between $0.75 and $3.75 to visit the Bou Sra waterfall, officials said Sunday.
Deputy Provincial Governor So Nath said he was left dumbfounded Tuesday after being flagged down at the checkpoint in Pech Chhreada district’s Bou Sra commune and asked to pay $3.75 if he wanted to go any further.
“I told them ‘I am the deputy governor of this province,’ but they said it is the company’s policy to take money from people driving cars,” he said, adding that he reluctantly stumped up the cash.
“I did not know what to say. This is an injustice to me and I had no choice: I had to pay it,” So Nath said.
Sola Investment Company has been awarded a contract to upgrade 36 km of Road 76 running between the provincial town and the waterfall, said Keo Horn, also a deputy provincial governor.
In return, the Cambodian company can collect tariffs from vehicles carrying goods and tourists; but it has not been given the green light to take money from people living in the province, he said.
The firm can take $0.75 from motorcycles and $3.75 from cars, he said.
A provincial cabinet official said on condition of anonymity that the firm has already spent $2 million on upgrading the road.
Sola Investment officials could not be reached for comment.
Nha Raing, also a deputy provincial governor, said Wednesday that he had not been formally notified of the system.
“There is no policy to take money from people and officials in this province,” he said. “We will have discussions about this problem and we will solve it.”
Senior provincial officials are not the only ones to have been caught off guard by the new tolls.
Chan Thol, a Sen Monorom resident and local NGO worker, said he also had to pay $3.75.
“They should take money from tourists, not people in this province,” he said.