Voters who travel to cast ballots in the upcoming poll Sunday could face higher transportation fees as drivers and companies try to capitalise on heavier passenger volume.
Phan Na, general manager at Phnom Penh Sorya Transportation, which sells bus tickets to several provinces, said fees could rise about 10 per cent, and that most of the revenue would go back to support the company’s employees, who take the time off to vote.
“From my point of view, there would be crowded passengers before and after the election day,” he said.
Cheng Noeun, a private taxi driver whose route is between Svay Rieng province and Phnom Penh, said the price between the two locations is $5 per trip, but that it goes up by a few dollars during the Pchum Ben festival and the Khmer New Year holiday.
The election, he said, is not likely to be any different.
“I think the taxi fee can be 5,000 riel [$1.25] higher than the normal price,” he said, adding that “we increase the price because there are many passengers at that time”.
Vorn Pao, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association, a group representing workers in informal sectors such as transportation, said workers who have low incomes would be affected.
“I think that some workers will abandon their voting because they have less money during the election day,” he said, adding that “the biggiest obstacle is expensive transportation fees”.
Sambath Naisrann, a 22-year-old worker at New Orient [Cambodia] Garment Co Ltd, said she knew the taxi fee would be higher, but was willing to pay the price to cast her ballot.
She said she would spend about 75 cents more than usual to get to her home in Kampong Cham province, about a three-hour drive from Phnom Penh.
“I will go to vote on that day, because I have the right to vote in the national election for the first time,” she said, adding that “at that time, I will have the chance to see my relatives too”.
Long Dimanche, a spokesman for Phnom Penh City Hall, said that so far, the city hasn’t requested that taxi drivers and transportation companies keep rates the same, a practice it has employed in the past to help stabilise prices.
Tep Nytha, secretary-general of the National Election Committee (NEC), said he does not have exact data on the number of Cambodians heading home to vote, because some make the decision to stay and register in Phnom Penh.
“Well, it is out of our control because people here can also vote when they have enough documents to register here,” he said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MAY KUNMAKARA