Taxi Drivers May Protest Electric Cars

Government officials on Tues­day denied reports that a group of taxi drivers has formally complained and threatened to dem­on­strate against a plan to take tourists around the Angkor temples in electric cars.

Senate President Chea Sim, to whom the letter was reportedly addressed, had not seen it, ac­cord­ing to an aide. “As soon as that letter reaches our office, we will forward it to the complaint commission,” said Om Sarith, an adviser to Chea Sim.

Suy San, second deputy governor of Siem Reap province, said he had not seen any demonstrations in Siem Reap town against the plan. “I only heard the rumor [of a protest] being spread from one to another, but the situation nowadays is still calm,” he said.

ABC International Cambodia Co Ltd, in a joint venture with the government’s Apsara Authority, plans to put into operation 300 electric cars at the temples, a move authorities say would help preserve the environment. The cars are to be in place before a three-day millennium celebration that officials expect to attract some 30,000 tourists.

Apsara Authority officials said previously that taxis, including motorcycle taxis, would be ban­ned near the temples.

Suy San said he knew people were concerned the electric cars could hurt their business. “I guess the higher level [authorities] initially ought to come down to conduct the survey on people’s reactions before signing a contract,” he said. “We are afraid that people might think that we do not respect their rights.” He said Apsara Authority didn’t consult with local officials on the plan.

An Apsara Authority official Tues­day said she knew nothing about a demonstration, nor had she seen any letter of complaint. “I cannot rely on rumor,” said Tep Vatho, bureau chief of Ap­sa­ra Authority in Siem Reap.

While the electric cars po­tentially could put taxi drivers out of business, Apsara Authority has said it plans to hire about 500 local women in tra­ditional dress to drive the electric cars.

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