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Protest over bike rentals to foreigners

More than 100 tuk tuk and motorbike taxi drivers protested in front of the provincial hall in Sihanoukville on Friday to demand an end to motorbike rentals and hotel bus service for foreign visitors.

“We have sent an intervention letter to the provincial hall officials to help us with the two points that we suggested to them,” Loeung Sithar, director of the Association of Motortaxi and Tuk Tuk Safety in Preah Sihanouk, said yesterday.

He added that tuk tuk and motorbike taxi drivers didn’t want to resort to protesting, but if the government allows the renting of motorbikes and picking up of tourists, they will not earn any income.

“We see that most tuk tuk and mototaxi drivers are losing income from driving guests because the guests can rent motorbikes to ride by themselves,” said Mang Socheat, director of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association.

There are seven bus companies in Preah Sihanouk province that transport guests back and forth between bus stations and hotels, he said.

“These companies are competing with our business. They have a large amount of business and we only have a small amount, so they should allow us to earn a little money to support our families.”

Mang Socheat said that he would send another letter to the provincial hall to set up a date for a face-to-face discussion with the company owners to find a solution.

“We can help them with one suggestion out of the two that they demanded,” said Sok Phorn, deputy provincial cabinet chief of Preah Sihanouk. “We can close the motorbike rental services to foreign guests, but we cannot stop the bus companies from picking up guests because it is a free market, so they can do that,” he said.

“I will inform all places which are renting motorbikes to foreign guests to close this service,” he said, adding that renting motorbikes to foreigners had been prohibited last year, but had started again in 2010.



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