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Companies told to refrain from increasing Pchum Ben fares

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:
People cram onto a truck to make their way home cheaply for Pchum Ben. KT/Chor Sokunthea

City Hall has once again called on transportation companies to refrain from increasing bus fares during the last days of Pchum Ben as many are expected to return to their home provinces.

The message is repeated by City Hall officials every year because bus companies see holidays as an opportunity to make increased profits.

Phnom Penh Governor Khuong Sreng said in a letter dated Monday that even though some transport companies comply with the message by not increasing bus and taxi fares, some do not.

“City Hall acknowledges that a number of private transportation companies preserve stable prices for passengers during Pchum Ben, while others do not,” Mr Sreng said. “Again, we would like to call on owners of bus and taxi companies to not increase fares.”

Met Measpheakdey, spokesman for City Hall, yesterday said it is difficult for transportation companies to keep prices low in a free market economy.

“We can’t force them so we make calls over and over again,” Mr Measpheakdey said. “I think those companies will suffer and lose clients if they do not follow the call.”

He noted that City Hall will deploy 120 public buses to take people home to their provinces during the last few days of Pchum Ben.

A taxi driver who declined to be named yesterday said he was unaware of City Hall’s message.

He admitted to increasing fares by about 5,000 riels for each passenger.

“I only increased it by a little when compared to others,” he said. “It’s because there aren’t many passengers coming back from the provinces. I want City Hall to understand this.”

A ticket seller for Sorya Bus Transport yesterday said even though City Hall’s message is heard, only the owner of the company can make price adjustments.

“I had no idea. I just follow my boss and sell tickets,” she said.

Sok Rorn, a resident who plans to return home with her family, said that during Pchum Ben, she has to spend $10 for each member of her family to return to Tboung Khmum.

Ms Rorn said on any normal day, the bus fare is $3.

“I want them to lower the price. My husband, children and I combined equals a lot of money spent,” she said.

Additionally, City Hall said transportation companies must refrain from overloading their vehicles with passengers.

It said taxi and bus drivers must obey traffic laws.

“Citizens should not overload vehicles or sit on taxi roofs so accidents can be avoided,” Mr Measpheakdey said. “The authorities will conduct regular patrols at bus stations to check and ensure drivers follow technical standards.”

City Hall also said that rubbish teamsters working for Cintri will be off from Friday to Sunday and residents in the capital are expected to keep the city clean.

“In order to maintain a healthy environment, City Hall would like to appeal to residents of Phnom Penh to please do not dump rubbish in public,” it said.

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