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

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • EU officials: Ending EBA an 18-month procedure

    EU officials have confirmed that it will take a total of 18 months to complete the procedure if Cambodia’s preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) trade agreement is to be withdrawn. According to EU Agriculture and Rural Development spokesman Daniel Rosario, the formal process has not