The drivers of “Indian” metered tuk-tuks are facing widespread criticism for failing to respect traffic laws and causing traffic jams and accidents.
Nay Sitha, a resident of Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, spoke to The Post about the difficulties he faces, especially when travelling to and from work.
He said congestion and other problems were often caused by drivers of ‘Indian’ tuk-tuks, who disregarded the law and overtook without respect for traffic lanes.
“In the morning at about 7am, I go to work near the Royal Palace. I have often seen [issues caused by] ‘Indian’ tuk-tuk drivers. In the past, some of our 'Khmer' tuk-tuks caused problems but now the most non-compliant are ‘Indian’ tuk-tuks."
“They do not respect other road users and overtake everywhere they can. They don’t care about car lanes or motorbike lanes. In short, they overtake others carelessly to move ahead of others."
“When they drive in motorbike lanes, they cause congestion because this kind of tuk-tuk is more equal in size to a car than a motorbike,” he said.
On the morning of Buddhist holy day in December, Sitha said, he gave his mother a lift to a pagoda and was hit from behind because the driver of an ‘Indian’ tuk-tuk was in hurry. Luckily they were not seriously injured.
“I do not know whether or not the ‘Indian’ tuk-tuk drivers are aware of the laws. There are loads of ‘Indian’ tuk-tuks and the drivers don’t seem to respect the law. They just overtake to make sure they are first and don’t think about causing traffic jams,” he said.
Another Phnom Penh resident, Nov Chetra, said when there were only 'Khmer' tuk-tuks, congestion didn’t happen very often. “The number of ‘Indian’ tuk-tuks is on the rise now. I see it everywhere and the drivers drive unethically. They are always in hurry to be first,” he said.
Chetra called on the relevant authorities to take serious action to stop them driving as they please.
“The rising number of ‘Indian’ tuk-tuks is not necessarily bad, but they need to be controlled so they do not cause chaos. I ask the government to look into it,” he said.
Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation director Kim Pagna said: “Khmer tuk-tuk drivers do not cause a lot of problems. The problem is the ‘Indian’ tuk-tuks. They drive in the wrong direction on both sides of the road and are always in a hurry to go first. This causes traffic accidents and congestion.
“The relevant authorities should educate the ‘Indian’ tuk-tuk drivers about traffic laws and, in some cases, offer training courses.”
He said tuk-tuks are considered as cars, not motorbikes because tuk-tuks have a reverse gear.
Luy Chhen, the head of the national police traffic department, told The Post on Tuesday: “Drivers of [Indian] tuk-tuks often block traffic everywhere they go. They want to overtake [everyone] which causes traffic [problems]. [It] is a new trend . . . It is hard for the authorities to confront,” he said.
Chhorng Sovirak, the driver of an ‘Indian’ tuk-tuk based at Botum Vatey pagoda, said: “We find it difficult because when customers book us, we need to arrive quickly [or they] will cancel the booking . . . If we are not fast, we cannot earn money.”
Keo Peah, who works out of Aeon Mall, agreed.
“Since there are many ‘Indian’ tuk-tuk drivers, this business is very competitive,” he said.
The Post was unable to reach the founder of online ride-hailing service PassApp, Top Nimol, for comment on Tuesday.
Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) director Vorn Pov said that this year, the number of ‘Indian’ tuk-tuks will increase to 35,000, while only 4,000 are members of his association.