Transport operators take advantage of demand-side pressure for New Year holiday as 70pc of capital expected to travel.
Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN
Travellers take a taxi out of Phnom Penh on Sunday.
DESPITE officials' efforts to discourage taxi drivers and bus companies from inflating fees during Khmer New Year, several interviewed by the Post said they had no intention of passing on the opportunity to make extra dollars.
Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said Governor Kep Chuktema met with taxi and bus companies last week to urge them to charge standard fares in the holiday. But he said City Hall would not punish those who raise prices.
"This is not a legal directive," he said. "City Hall has to inform taxi owners every year. I think there is no reason for increasing transport prices, because the price of gasoline didn't increase."
Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said at a press conference Thursday that he expected 70 percent of Phnom Penh residents to head to their home provinces.
Chhay Veth, who drives a taxi between Phnom Penh and Battambang province, said he believed fares would increase by 10 to 20 percent during the holiday, adding that customers expected fee inflation because it happened every year.
"Once a year, it is ... a seasonal price," he said. "We like to ask for higher fees if passengers are available to pay more."
This view was echoed by Sam Vuth, who drives a taxi between Phnom Penh and Kampong Cham province. He said most drivers on that route would increase prices from 17,000 riels (US$4.09) to 25,000 riels.
"I think officials may not be able to stop drivers from increasing fees because people are used to it already, and the New Year is a good time to earn more profits," he said.
Chhay Veth said the fees would be even steeper for taxi passengers travelling at night.
Phan Na, general manager of Phnom Penh Sorya Transport, said his company would charge one extra dollar for all tickets
during the holiday and one or two days after, when travellers make their return trips.
From Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, the cost would rise from 19,000 riels to 23,000 riels. These fees went into effect Saturday.