A Chinese company has put 25 electric vehicles in service inside the Angkor archeological park, and has set such a low launch price for the service that local taxi drivers say it threatens their livelihoods.
On Thursday, Yeeher Development started the service on three routes inside the park with vehicles that can each accommodate five tourists.
The company and Apsara Authority—the government agency managing Angkor—have set the price at $6 per person, said company spokesman Huy Leng. But the launch price is $2 per person for the opening trial period, he said.
Taxi drivers, who charge tourists around $20 per day to be taken around the park, cannot compete, said Kim Phally, president of the Taxi Transportation Association in Siem Reap.
“We are Siem Reap people and can’t live without serving tourists—[with that price] we face losing our jobs,” he said.
About 330 taxi drivers plan to write to Prime Minister Hun Sen about the new electric vehicles, he said.
“In a free market, price competition is normal,” said Soeung Kong, Apsara Authority deputy director general, adding that the electric vehicles will also help protect the environment.
Gasoline fumes have been mentioned several times as a potential threat to the monuments by the International Coordinating Committee of Angkor, which includes Apsara and donors. Air pollution, plus heavy traffic on the park’s dusty roads, led Apsara to prohibit large buses in the park earlier this year. Now only medium-size buses are allowed into the park.
Ho Vandy, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said that he didn’t believe that the electric vehicles would have much of an impact, as the service will only operate inside the park.
Thousands of taxi, motorcycle taxi and three-wheeler tuk-tuk drivers, who depend on tourists for their living, have protested each time the issue of electric vehicles has come up in the last few years.