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Capital moots ban on buses

People wait for buses at a bus station near Phnom Penh’s Central Market yesterday afternoon.
People wait for buses at a bus station near Phnom Penh’s Central Market yesterday afternoon. Hong Menea

Capital moots ban on buses

City Hall announced plans yesterday to ban long-haul buses from Phnom Penh by 2016, citing a need to reduce traffic jams and excessive crowds clogging up the capital.

In a meeting yesterday morning with Transportation Department officials and representatives of bus companies, City Governor Pa Socheatvong said all buses travelling to Phnom Penh from outside the city will have to establish new bus stations on the capital’s outskirts.

“It’s a good way to avoid traffic jams in the city caused by buses, and for crowds to be reduced,” he said. “The city is too crowded already as the population and the amount of cars and motorbikes increases day by day.”

Socheatvong added that the municipality had received a slew of complaints over the issue, prompting the drastic action.

He said that a number of bus companies that were authorised only to sell tickets in Phnom Penh had commandeered sidewalks and city streets as unofficial stops.

From 2016, “all bus companies must find appropriate locations outside of the city [to park in], which the state may be able to help find private investment to fund”.

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche could not be reached following the meeting to provide details of potential penalties if the new orders are not followed.

While many people yesterday said they were looking forward to a less-congested Phnom Penh, others raised concerns about the plans.

Sin Sisaket, an administrative manager at the Mekong Express bus company who attended yesterday’s meeting, said that while he supported plans to ease city traffic, the municipality’s announcement would create issues for his business.

“It will be difficult for us to find a new location on time, and we are afraid it will create problems for our passengers, because they will have to pay more money if the bus stops in the countryside, far away from the city.

They will have to pay a bus fee, and they will also pay for a tuk-tuk or motorbike to take them into the city,” he explained.

Sisaket said he hoped his concerns would be addressed in upcoming meetings with City Hall.

Tuk-tuk drivers and motodops based outside of current city bus stations gave mixed reactions to the plans yesterday.

“There are some benefits and some drawbacks,” said 29-year-old tuk-tuk driver Cha Na, who is based next to Central Market.

“It’s bad, because I get lots of business here, and if I move out of the city, I won’t find as many passengers. But the buses always create traffic jams that slow down journeys, so it will be good if that stops.”

A nearby motodop, 48-year-old Pov Van, said he struggled to see any benefits.

“I’ve been in this spot for 10 years and I don’t want to move. If the buses stop far away from the city, it will take us time and money to get there,” he said.

“If we moved [outside of the city], we could charge more money for the journeys, but we wouldn’t have as many customers.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALICE CUDDY

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