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Electric car debate rages again

Electric car debate rages again

091211_sr14a
An electric car shares the patch with tuk tuks at Angkor Thom.

An item in this month’s Southeast Asia Globe magazine revisited the story that Siem Reap’s tuk-tuk drivers are angered over the use of electric cars in the Angkor temple complex, and fear they will be banned from the temple precinct.

But Run Serey Ratha, general manager of the 7Makara Electric Car unit at Apsara Authority, told 7Days there was no plan to ban any vehicles, particularly tuk -tuks, from taking guests to the temples.

And Siem Reap tuk-tuk drivers 7Days spoke to seemed more concerned about the decline in tourist numbers and hence their lowered income.

The notion of angry tuk-tuk talk about electric vehicles at Angkor was first mooted in November 1999 when news reports stated that taxi drivers and motodops in Siem Reap had protested in front of Angkor Wat against an electric car project, saying it will cause them to lose their jobs.

Then in September 2006 came more news about tuk -tuk protests over electric vehicles.

According to a news report at the time, “A Chinese-owned private company that now operates 40 electric vehicles has sole rights to take tourists around the [Angkor Archaeological] park.”

The same report said around 200 angry tuk-tuk drivers blocked the entrance to Angkor Archaeological Park because they were no longer permitted to take tourists directly to the temples inside the park, but must remain in a parking lot near the entrance.

Meanwhile, in January 2008 the 7Makara Electric Car Project was established, with Chinese financial assistance.

Mey Marady, deputy director of Apsara Authority, said that as part of this project 23 electric cars are now managed by the Apsara Authority, and operate mainly in the Angkor Thom temple complex.

7Makara Electric Car’s general manager Run Serey Ratha, said, “These cars are very helpful in protecting the environment in the Angkor park complex because they do not produce smoke.”

He said tourists like the cars, and that that some tour operators abroad had introduced 7Makara Electric Cars into their tour packages.

He said the eco-friendly rides set tourists back $3 for a three kilometres distance in the Angkor Thom temple complex, but guests were welcome to hire the cars for longer trips and would be charged accordingly.

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