Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tuk tuks: Not in my city, says Sophara

Tuk tuks: Not in my city, says Sophara

Tuk tuks: Not in my city, says Sophara

6-Past-Post.jpg
6-Past-Post.jpg

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY

Vol. 10, No. 21

October 12-25, 2001

AROUND 100 drivers of three-wheeled motorbikes, known as tuk tuks, protested a decision earlier this year by the Phnom Penh municipality that outlaws their vehicles and with it, their livelihoods.

Tuk tuk driver Lon Narim said he was angry at the municipality's ban. He said he had sold his farmland in Svay Poul village in Pearang district, Prey Veng, to buy his vehicle.

"The Phnom Penh municipality instituted the ban after we bought the motorbikes. I have no house to live in," Narim said. "Now I want the municipality and importer to buy our bikes back."

However, neither the importer nor the governor of Phnom Penh, Chea Sophara, are interested. Sophara has put his own prestige at stake over the issue.

"I absolutely will not allow them to run in the city. I will consider it a personal disgrace. Those tuk tuks should be run in Afghanistan and India, not in my city," he told the Post.

One importer, who brings the bikes here from China and who insisted on anonymity, said she imported 30 bikes last year. If the municipality stuck by its decision, she would not order any more.

As for her now disgruntled customers: "I will not buy their bikes back because they are old now," she said.

The drivers, many of whom are demobilized soldiers from the provinces, said they came to the capital to find work. They said they did not want to drive moto-taxis due to the growing number of robberies. They maintain that tuk tuks are safe from the robbers who target moto-taxis.

Sok Seng, who represented the group, said he was robbed while working as a moto-taxi driver four years ago. He was mystified by the municipality's insistence that they quit Phnom Penh, and insisted tuk tuk transport was safer for both drivers and passengers.

Another driver, Bouth Vichet, said the municipality's decision meant he would incur a large loss. He said he had bought his bike with a US$500 loan from Acleda bank - a leading micro-finance institution in Cambodia - using his house to secure the loan. Now he still owes the bank money and has no means to repay it.

He said working as a tuk tuk driver in the countryside promised a poor living, since he could charge only 300 riels per trip. "[But] in the city I can make 10,000 riels a day for my family after I have paid for five litres of gasoline," he said.

"I would like to appeal to Prime Minister Hun Sen to help poor people like us," said Vichet. "If the Phnom Penh municipality does not respond to our demand, we will have to keep protesting."

MOST VIEWED

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • NBC eyes KHQR payments in Laos, Vietnam

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) is working with Lao and Vietnamese authorities to expand the use of KHQR code cross-border payment systems to promote trade and investment as well as increase the scope of regional economic linkages, and in particular, facilitate remittances from overseas

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’