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Gas Price Hike Squeezes Drivers, Consumers

Rising gas prices are increasing the pressure on many Cambodians, especially those who earn a living driving people around.

Kong Loeut, who takes passengers on his old motorcycle, said he has a problem even filling his gas tank on all the money he earns from morning to noon.

The 3,000 riel he typically earns in that time won't even buy a liter of gas, he said.

"I am very worried, and afraid that the gas price will go up," he said. "In my mind, a liter of gas costing 3,000 riel is alright, but it is over 4,000 riel. I appeal to the government to decrease the gas price. It will then be easier for us motorcycle taxi drivers to be able to make a living."

Fuel at stations was selling Monday for 4,100 riel per liter for super, 4,000 riel per liter for regular and 3,200 riel per liter for diesel.

These prices are squeezing just about everyone, said Kek Galabru, founder of the rights group Licadho.

"Some people are civil servants, teachers, or police officers, and they make $20 [per month]," she said. "When they have free time, they take their old motorcycles and use them to transport people for money, to make ends meet. I think $20 can only go as long as three or four days and cannot last 30 days."

People earning about 4,000 riel per day used to be able to make a living, she said, but not anymore.

"They are very poor, and we cannot compare their lives to ours," she said. "But I think if we can sell the gasoline at the same price as Thailand or Vietnam, it is fair."