Around 200 angry tuk-tuk drivers blocked the entrance to Angkor Archaeological Park Monday to protest new restrictions and parking fees they say have unfairly been applied to them since Sept 1, officials said.
Tuk-tuk and taxi drivers are no longer permitted to take tourists directly to the temples inside the park, but must remain in a parking lot near the entrance, the Apsara Authority confirmed Monday.
A Chinese-owned private company that now operates 40 electric vehicles has sole rights to take tourists around the park.
“The [three-wheel] drivers started to protest at 7 am and broke up around 5:30 pm,” Siem Reap Deputy Governor Chan Sophal said. “They disagree to pay a fee for the parking lot and want to take tourists right to the stairs of Angkor Wat,” he said. Chan Sophal said that the new policy has been implemented because electric cars are better for the park’s environment.
Kim Phally, president of the Tourism Transportation Association of Siem Reap, said taxi drivers have lost revenue since they were banned from entering the park. “All domestic taxi services want the Apsara Authority to stop the business of the electric car company and to stop asking taxis to pay a parking fee,” he said. “We think that Angkor belongs to all Cambodians, not to a foreign company…. the Cambodian people should earn a profit from the heritage,” he added.
The director of Siem Reap’s tourism department acknowledged that taxis are losing business but said there is now less clutter at the temple sites. “To keep order at Angkor, the new way is better,” Koy Song said.
Apsara Authority Deputy Director Soeung Kong accused the protestors of damaging several signs for tourists and the Chinese company. “The previous situation was not orderly because tuk-tuk went everywhere without paying a parking fee,” Soeung Kong alleged.
He said the Apsara Authority is now charging 500 riel, or $0.12, for a motorcycle, 2,000 riel, or $0.48, for a taxi and 3,000 riel, or $0.73, for mini buses at the new car park.