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Tuk-tuk ban angers drivers

Tuk-tuk ban angers drivers

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090609_02.jpg

Daun Penh officials say tuk-tuks are no longer allowed on three lucrative streets in the district, including the riverside

Photo by:

Heng Chivoan

A tuk-tuk driver takes a nap in his vehicle in central Phnom Penh earlier this week.

THE majority of the 34 tuk-tuks confiscated during the street sweeps ahead of last month's ASEAN-EU meeting have been returned, but drivers claim unfair restrictions have been placed on them by Phnom Penh police, which, they say, put their livelihoods in jeopardy.

The seizures were necessary in order to educate tuk-tuk drivers not to illegally park or sleep in their vehicles in Phnom Penh's public spaces,  said Sok Penhvuth, Daun Penh's deputy district governor.

"We have been informing all tuk-tuk drivers for nearly a year not to park illegally or sleep along prohibited areas,  including major tourism and conference sites, in order to maintain a clean and orderly city," he said.

But in order to have their vehicles returned to them, tuk-tuk drivers say they have been forced to sign a contract saying they will not drive on Daun Penh district's three main roads - the popular tourist streets of Sisowath Quay and Norodom and Sothearos boulevards.

"I will fight this [ban]," said Om Savath, a 25-year-old driver from Svay Rieng.

"Why don't they ban the tycoons who have two or three cars from driving on the main roads? We have one tuk-tuk and are very poor," he said.

The drivers say the ban will make it impossible for them to earn a living, and say they have been given no explanation from police as to why they cannot drive on these roads.

"We do not allow tuk-tuk drivers to drive on some prohibited roads in the Daun Penh district," said Him Yan, Phnom Penh deputy municipal police chief, declining to specify when or why the ban was effected.

We do not allow tuk-tuk drivers to drive on some

prohibited roads.

Bribes demanded

Drivers have also alleged that they have had to pay bribes to get their vehicles out of police custody, a charge Him Yan denied.

"We never fine them [tuk-tuk drivers] any money, we simply educate them to obey the law, but they ignore our information again and again," he said.

But drivers have reported otherwise, with one 31-year old-driver who asked not to be named for fear of repercussions by the police saying  the authorities ordered him to make an illegal registration card for his tuk-tuk. In total, he says he had to pay US$55 to the police in  order to retrieve his vehicle.

Another driver, Ly Sokun, 25, has still not managed to get his vehicle back, saying, "I could not retrieve my tuk-tuk because I had no money to pay the police."

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