Traditional Khmer New Year Taxi Price Hike Set for Friday

Phnom Penh taxi drivers will raise their prices Friday in anticipation of hordes of customers traveling to the provinces for Khmer New Year, a practice that drivers and passengers said Tuesday has become as much a tradition as the holiday itself.

“I am going to increase taxi fees because the price of gasoline has also increased—and the number of passengers will be crowded in the few days before New Year,” said Long Hak, 38, who drives a taxi between Phnom Penh and Kompong Thom town.

Round-trip fare from Phnom Penh to Pursat, Kompong Thom, Kompong Cham and Kompong Chhnang—the most popular destinations from Phnom Penh—will increase from about $1.50 to about $2.50.

The increases are not illegal, as the government does not regulate taxi prices, said Peng Sokun, deputy director of municipal public works and transportation.

Driver Kong Sophat, 45, said he will double his number of daily trips between the city and Kom­pong Chhnang to four.

“All taxi drivers have already estimated that thousands of garment workers will be back home, and they will agree to pay be­cause we have done every year like this,” he said Tuesday at Phsar Thmei.

Passengers said they have no choice but to pay the inflated fares.

“If we don’t pay, how can we reach home in the provinces? Taxi drivers understand our situation and then they increase the fees,” said Chhun Maly, 45, who travels frequently between Pursat and Phnom Penh by taxi for business.

Also Tuesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a directive to ministry and police officials to

“to safeguard security and public order” during the New Year. Police and armed forces should take “serious action” to crack down on theft and illegal gambling, he wrote.

On Tuesday, he was waiting for customers at Phsar Thmei, a popular parking lot for taxis en route to the provinces.

(Additional re­porting by Nhem Chea Bunly)

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