New low-cost meter cabs are now prowling the streets of the Phnom Penh,
and the capital city’s tuk-tuk drivers are running scared.
fleet of 12 shiny new taxis was deployed on the streets of Phnom Penh
over the weekend by the Chinese-invested Global Cambodia Trade
Development Co Ltd, even as tuk-tuk drivers complain that they will be
hurt by the competition.
“How do we earn a living?” asked 30-year-old tuk-tuk driver Duch
Sinoeun, as he sat parked along the capital city’s riverside strip
Monday. “It’s going to get harder for us to find customers for our
Duch Sineoun worried that an influx of air-conditioned meter taxis with
affordable fares would jeopardize his $10-per-day livelihood as a
“I am worried,” he said.
Global Cambodia Trade Development CEO Andre Lim said the point was not to compete with other services.
“We just want to provide more choices to people,” Lim said.
A two-kilometer taxi ride cost US$1 and 400 Riels ($0.10) for each 200 meters thereafter, he added.
“I think it is even cheaper than the tuk-tuk fare because we fixed the
price and no one complained.” Lim said. “The city needs development. It
needs new way of transporting people in comfort.”
Under the company’s agreement with city hall inked in November 2007,
Global would deploy 12 more taxis in the next couple of week and would
operate a fleet of 60 vehicles by September 2008, said Lim.
The company has invested $1.5 million in setting up the service and
expected to operate at a loss of $150,000 to $200,000 in the first
year, he said.
Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema told the Post at city hall Monday that
the city strongly supported the new metered taxis. While he
acknowledged the complaints of tuk-tuk drivers, “it’s a free market and
everyone should compete,” he said.
Taxis offer greater advantages to passengers in terms of comfort, he noted, providing greater safety along with lower fares.
But there were other ways in which tuk-tuks could compete with the taxis, he added.
“People will balance which one is better.”
Tuk-tuk driver Chan Sary, 45, said that his tuk-tuk could carry six or
seven people at a time and that he charged 8,000 Riels ($2) for a
“You can’t get as many people in a car as you can in a tuk-tuk,” Chan Sary said.