The moto kang bey... smaller than a Bangkok tuk-tuk, owners say it's ideal
for Phnom Penh streets.
HNOM PENH taxi drivers seem to be moving from motorbikes to cars just one wheel
at a time.
The latest move in the capital's competitive transport sector is the three-wheeled
motorbike known as the moto kang bey (three wheeler). The Chinese-made trike is rapidly
gaining popularity with drivers and customers alike. It is smaller than a Bangkok
tuk-tuk but bigger than a conventional motorbike and owners say it is ideal for Phnom
Penh's pot-holed streets.
"It is good and safe on the broken streets. It won't be robbed like a moto-dup,"
says Nouv Aun, who has nothing but praise for his new vehicle.
Customers, too, are happy with the extra room and protection from the elements the
moto-kang bey provides.
"I can put in all my luggage and the price is as cheap as a moto-dup,"
says Hieng, a permanent client of another three-wheeled devotee - Hout Chheng
at Oreussey market.
Chheng is now known as "Ta Kang Bey " at O'reussey market. He bought the
three-wheeler a month ago after he stopped working as a moto-dup because he was afraid
he would be robbed.
"Before I was called Pou Moto-dup [uncle moto-taxi driver] now people call me
"Ta Kang Bey," "the grandfather of the three-wheeler," Chheng
He says he makes more money with the moto-kang bey than he did with a motorbike and
he is no longer worried about being robbed.
"Being a moto-dup driver is very dangerous. I thought I would be killed one
day if I kept in the moto-dup business," he says.
It was a robbery that prompted Nouv Aun to look at other forms of transport. He said
his moto was stolen last moth near Phnom Penh police station.
"I was so lucky they did not kill me," he recalled.
Aun went to the shop at Psah Deum Dkao looking for the new transportation - the
After bargaining the price, Aun decided to buy a moto-kang bey to continue his career.
It cost $700, plus $20 extra for adding a roof to the passenger area.
Lay Try, 50, who runs the moto-kang bey shop at Psah Deum Dkao said the three-wheel
motor-truck cost about the same as a motorbike and sales were brisk. The engine and
chassis are imported from China.
He said one of the reasons for the popularity was that the three wheeler could carry
six people in comparative comfort for the same price as a moto-dup.
"Every day people come and buy kang bey from my shop. The buyers say they will
be not robbed with kang bey," Try says.
But not everybody is pleased with the development. Peng Sokun, Deputy Director of
the Public Works and Transport Department of Phnom Penh municipality argues that
the kang bey will cause more congestion in the city.
He suggested the moto kang bey should be restricted to the outskirts of the city,
replacing motor-trailers (remorques) which should be confined to rural areas.
He said he was also concerned the kang bey would drive cyclos out of business.
He said the cyclos were a convenient, no-pollution option for transport and provided
much needed income to farmers during the dry season.