Prime Minister Hun Sen announced yesterday that all people can ride the public bus for free in Phnom Penh, and from the capital to the provinces along National Roads 1 and 5, for Khmer New Year.
“I want to officially announce today that from April 12 until 18, people can ride the public bus without charge in Phnom Penh and from Phnom Penh to the other provinces along National Road 5 and National Road 1,” Mr Hun Sen said.
From Phnom Penh, National Road 5 heads northwest through Kampong Chhnang, Pursat, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces while National Road 1 heads southeast through Kandal, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng provinces.
Mr Hun Sen said that City Hall was preparing 60 buses with “Phnom Penh city” signs to help facilitate the travel of people during the upcoming Khmer New Year, which will take place from April 14 to 16.
San Chey, executive director of hte Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said yesterday that he supported the government supplying 60 public buses for people to ride for free during the Khmer New Year.
“Providing 60 public buses to take free of charge during a big festival is good. The private transportation sector has been free to charge whatever they like for many years already,” he said.
Mr Chey recommended that this free bus service be provided every year and not only for the provinces along National Roads 1 and 5, but for the entire country.
Last week, Mr Hun Sen asked all taxi drivers and transportation companies to not increase prices during the Khmer New Year.
Sam Piseth, director of the municipal department of public works and transportation, said the city had 157 public buses while 30 more buses would arrive later this month, courtesy of the Japanese government.
Meanwhile, the Ganzberg Brewery yesterday distributed free bus tickets to people travelling to their hometown during the Khmer New Year.
Chi Phalla, human resources and administrative manager for Ganzberg Brewery, said more than 100 buses would be departing for many provinces across the country.
“We created this programme to join with the government to reduce traffic accidents and to help our people and garment workers get a free bus ticket,” he said. “We will give them away at the Koh Pich exhibition centre from April 1 until the tickets are gone.”
Mr Phalla said the buses will leave from Phnom Penh at 7am on April 12. Kvek Sokhom, 25, who came to get a bus ticket from Ganzberg yesterday, said he was very happy to get a free bus ticket to his hometown in Siem Reap province.
“It is good for those of us who don’t have a lot of money to travel home. We can save the money we’d spend on a ticket to buy other things for our family members,” he said.
Kean Prek, who also picked up a free bus ticket courtesy of Ganzberg, said he usually spent at least $10 to travel from Phnom Penh to his home in Pursat province.
“Some people say $10 is not much, but for me it’s a lot. I can use this money to buy something or offer it to my parents at home,” he said.