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Cyclo drivers in security guard smackdown

TRACEY SHELTON

Cyclo drivers claim they are being bullied and denied a right to earn a living by security guards around Sorya Shopping Centre and Central Market.

P

hnom Penh’s cyclo drivers say security guards around the city’s markets are chasing them off and making it increasingly difficult for them to earn a living, says Cyclo Center coordinator Nouv Sarany.

According to a center survey, there are now 1,282 cyclo drivers pedaling their ways through the streets of Phnom Penh. 

Many were giving up the job, however, because they could no longer endure conflicts with market security guards, Nouv Sarany said.

“About half of all of cyclo drivers have faced problems with market security guards, usually asking them for money,” she said, adding that guards at Phsar Thmei (Central Market) and the Sorya Shopping Center were the leading cause of headaches.

Ouk Rey, 42, came to the city from Prey Veng province in 1993 to work as a cyclo driver and said he has had problems with the market security guards numerous times.

“I want to kill them, I get so angry when they try to make trouble for me,” Ouk Rey said. “They ask me for money, and when I don’t give it to them, they grab the seat cushion or kick my cyclo to try to damage it.”

He said it was hard to argue with them because he was poor and powerless against them

“I want to the government to help us from being looked down on and mistreated,” he said.

“I have slept in front of other people’s houses since 1984 because I don’t have the money to rent a house,” said cyclo driver Sok Vanna, 47. “How can I afford to give money to market security guards everyday? I start to work at 7 a.m. and work until 10 p.m. around the Central Market, and I can earn about 7,000 or 8,000 riel [about $2] a day, and I have to buy food and send money to my family in Takeo province.”

“I know the market security guards need cyclo drivers to give them money, and if they don’t they will not allow them to park and will start fights or try to damage the cyclos,” said Nouv Sarany. “But the drivers who give them money will be allowed to park and do business around the market with no problem. It’s not right for the market security guards to do that to the cyclo drivers, even though they have power.”

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