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Sihanoukville ferry perators upset at new gov’t charge

A directive ordering Sihanoukville ferry operators to pay $3 per ticket to the provincial government has been met with widespread displeasure, with ferry operators defaulting on payment and demanding that the policy be scrapped.

In a letter dated September 2, provincial authorities had said the money collected would be used for conserving and developing the coastline to “attract more tourists”.

“But until now, no one has agreed to pay,” said Cheab Sotheary, a provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc. “[The ferry operators] asked the authorities to abolish the policy because most tourists will probably complain that the tickets are expensive.”

Chem Samnang, who owns a boat in Sihanoukville, said businesses could not hike prices. “We spend so much [money] on petrol and servicing our boats, and the tourists [who bear the cost] are already complaining the ticket is expensive,” he said.

Provincial Governor Yun Min said the decision was an outcome of inter-ministerial discussions.

“We will hold more meetings to decide what to do with recalcitrant operators,” he added.

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