Transport operators have increased passenger fares ahead of Khmer New Year, even after government officials and experts asked operators to keep prices steady.
Sorya Bus Transportation Company Director Chan Sophana said the company had temporarily increased prices by 15 percent starting on Saturday, following consultations with other transportation firms.
“My company is charging about 15 percent more than normal because gasoline prices are rising, and passengers are only travelling out of Phnom Penh – there are no return travellers,” he said.
Chan Theary, a taxi driver who ferries passengers between Phnom Penh and Svay Rieng city, said he had increased his fees from 15,000 riel per passenger to 25,000 riel during the New Year season.
“I’m charging this fee because it is the holiday season and taxi drivers always charge like this,” he said. He added the temporary increase was caused partly by high gasoline prices, increased ferry fees, and payoffs to the police.
But passengers said they were not pleased with the increase.
Chheut Sreng, who held tickets for his five-member family to travel to Banteay Meanchey by bus, complained that his 35,000 riel ticket was about one third more costly than normal.
“My family is not rich ... and I will not have much money to spend when I arrive at my hometown,” he said.
Last Friday, the Phnom Penh Municipality issued a declaration requesting authorities ensure that transportation providers did not use the excuse of Khmer New Year to increase fees and overload their vehicles.
Ho Vanndy, co-chair of the Tourism Working Group, said temporary increases in fees caused people to reduce travel in the long run.
He requested the government take more action protecting consumers during Khmer New Year.
Cambodia Institute for Development Studies President Kang Chandararot said that while high transportation fees hurt those who receive lower incomes, the holiday increase was merely a case of supply and demand. “In the free market, when there is more demand, the price increases.”