Prime minister-designate Hun Sen on Wednesday called on the Phnom Penh authorities to enhance the public transport network after private operators raised bus fares for the coming national holidays.
An efficient public bus service will help people commute easily, especially during the Pchum Ben festival in October, he said.
Addressing 14,799 garment workers from six factories in Cham Chao commune, Por Sen Chey district yesterday, Hun Sen called on the authorities to increase the number of public buses.
“We are willing to lose money by adding more public buses to ply along national roads to ease travel during the Pchum Ben Days. So, [let] private-run bus companies raise bus fares as they wish."
“We will buy 100 to 200 buses as back up and let’s see what happens,” Hun Sen said.
Phnom Penh City Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey told The Post yesterday that the authorities will abide by Hun Sen’s call and was currently discussing how many buses to add and their routes.
He said City Hall has a total of 237 buses plying eight roads throughout Phnom Penh.
“We are contemplating to provide additional services that can be profitable and more people can commute. According to figures, there are 20,000 to 30,000 people commuting by public buses daily,” he said.
Cambodia-based Affiliated Network for Social Accountability executive director San Chey said he welcomed the idea to increase the number of buses.
However, he urged the government to set clear policies, especially on bus schedules, and build more bus stops at convenient places so it will be easy for commuters.
He also suggested that the authorities consider helping people living in rural areas, as they do not have easy access to public transport.
“I want the government to help those whose houses are away from the national road, meaning they live in rural areas. If they use public buses, they would not reach their homes."
The Japanese government recently pledged to donate 80 buses to Cambodia in April.
Japan plans to offer 140 buses between 2018 and 2020, valued at about 32.45 billion riel ($8 million). In July last year, the Chinese government offered 100 buses to Phnom Penh City Hall.
The City Hall started public bus services on February 5, 2014, and charged 1,500 riel for each ride. However, it is free for students, garment workers and monks.
Last year, Phnom Penh city officials accepted 98 buses from China in order to relieve congestion along the three lines in the capital which serve between 1,600 and 1,700 people daily.