As many flock to their hometowns today to celebrate Khmer New Year, complaints of price hikes and border bribes have started pouring in like clockwork.
Passengers arranging transport to the provinces told the Post yesterday that bus companies and taxies had raised their prices despite a directive issued by Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema last week to keep prices constant.
U Mao, 41, who bought a ticket to Siem Reap province, said prices had increased from the usual 25,000 riel (US$6.25) to 35,000 riel ($8.75).
“I, however, forced myself to buy it [ticket] to visit my parents, uncle, aunt and other relatives,” he said.
“I think that the increased price is disobedient to the prohibition of the city hall’s governor Kep Chuktema … His prohibition is ineffective,” he added.
Sok San, a Neak Krorhorm Travel and Tourism staffer, said ticket prices had increased to compensate for a recent fuel price hike, a lack of passengers returning to the capital after trips to the provinces and bonuses for staff to work over the new year period.
Taxi driver Bun Theoun, who usually takes passengers from Phnom Penh to Battambang, similarly said he was unable to comply with the governor’s orders as he needed to cover the costs of parking, bribes at fake police checkpoints, which are rampant during the period, and fuel prices.
Kep Chuktema declined to comment yesterday, saying he was busy.
Meanwhile, Cambodian workers returning from Thailand for the holiday alleged yesterday that border officials were demanding bribes.
One worker said he had been asked to pay 10,000 riel ($2.50) at the Poipet border checkpoint when he returned for his yearly trip home on Tuesday.
“When I come back, I need to spend money for the ‘tip’ at the border. It is so bad,” he said.
Ouk Keo Ratanak, Banteay Meanchey provincial hall spokesman, however denied the practice was taking place, saying that payment was not required if workers returned via legal checkpoints.
To contact the reporter on this story: Khouth Sophak Chakrya at [email protected]