The capital city’s taxi drivers are balking at a campaign season cap on fare increases, saying they will stage a strike if fuel prices rise any further before election day on July 27.
“I was told not to increase fares before election day in order to help and encourage people to travel to their home villages to vote,” said Ny, a Phnom Penh taxi driver originally from Battambang province.
“But if they can’t guarantee gasoline prices for us during the campaign ... I will stop operating my business temporarily.”
“We want more people to be able to vote, so fares have to be kept stable,” said Phnom Penh deputy governor Chreang Sophann.
“The municipal mission is to serve people and help enable people to travel to provinces to vote by preventing taxi and bus fare increases. The measure was necessary for the city to prevent fare increase because taxi drivers and bus operators always take it upon themselves to increased fares.”
Taxi driver Leng Som, 49, said he was told at a meeting at the taxi barn a few weeks back that fares could not be increased during election season.
“We aren’t increasing fares,” he said, “but if petrol prices go up, we will stop operating.”
Ouch Bora, 47, who manages a taxi service that runs cars to the town of Pailin and to Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces, confirmed that drivers had been warned that any who raise fares during this period would be fined or have their taxi licenses suspended.
“We have already told our drivers not to increase the fares they charge to travelers during the coming campaign season in order to help people be able to travel to the provinces to vote,” Ouch Bora said. “This is an order we have to follow.”
Chreang Sophann refused to respond to driver calls for fuel price controls in the weeks leading up to the election.
“But if they increase their fares,” he said, “people won’t be able to afford to go home for the elections. We are working to help people to go vote.”