SOME bus companies and taxi drivers are set to increase their fees by 25 to 100 percent during the five days of Pchum Ben, a festival in which Cambodian people commemorate and honour dead ancestors.
But firms said yesterday that extra fees would go towards bonuses for drivers working over the holiday period, and supplements for empty buses returning from popular destinations.
May Wethat, sales manager at Neak Krorhorm transport company, confirmed yesterday that the price of a Phnom Penh-to-Siem Reap bus return would be raised from 20,000 riels to 25,000 riels to offset bonuses and supplements – and that departures would triple to 15 per day.
The pattern has been repeated across the country. A taxi driver based in Kampong Trach district of Kampot province, who asked not to be named, said yesterday that he planned to increase his fees by 100 percent because of festival parking fees at local markets.
“This fee increase becomes traditional,” he said, and added that even though passengers complained, the charges were “unavoidable” as drivers had to return to the capital with empty cars after transporting provincial festival-goers.
A 41-year-old Svay Rieng province driver, who gave his name as Tola, said: “People think they have one time per year to celebrate Pchum Ben, we also think we have one time to make good earnings.”
But many passengers remain disgruntled over doling out extra cash. Svay Rieng University student, Phok Marady, 22, who recently came to Phnom Penh to visit his uncle, said he had been charged more than usual. “It is difficult because my mother gives me only a little money,” he said.
Nhem Saran, director of Phnom Penh’s public works and transportation department, could not be reached for comment yesterday.