Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Siem Reap taxi drivers face licence fees

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Kay Kimsong
Tuesday, 24 March 2009

HUNDREDS of taxi drivers in Siem Reap face an ultimatum to pay a licence fee by Wednesday, or see the cost of it double.

Khim Sereyvuth, the head of the province's tourism department, said 1,000 drivers were affected by the ruling, and a fifth had already paid.

"The punishment is based on the Tourism Ministry's directive, which states a penalty of 200 percent," Khim Sereyvuth said, before admitting that the authorities did not know how many vehicles ought to be registered.

Van La, a 36-year-old driver of a 15-seat minibus, said he and his colleagues were annoyed at the extra fees: "This is an increased burden. I am not sure that this policy actually came from the Ministry of Tourism."

Van La said business had fallen noticeably in recent months. This time last year drivers were carrying passengers 20 days a month, but that had halved, and he knew of 50 drivers who were losing money. He said he would be charged US$36 for his minibus, with a further $46 for what seemed a spurious vehicle check.

"I got my receipt from the official at the transport department, but I didn't see them do any checks," he said. "As long as we pay, that seems to be enough."

Tourism Ministry Secretary of State Chum Iek met with the province's tourism department Friday to iron out the directive's overlap with the Public Works and Transport Ministry. He said it had been considered since 2001 and would be initiated.