Prime Minister Hun Sen warned yesterday to shut down locations that illegally modified trucks while blasting officials for waiting for his order instead of enforcing existing laws.
Last Friday, he ordered that overloaded trucks be taken off the road, saying they caused accidents, destroyed roads and caused public disorder.
Speaking during a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh yesterday, Mr Hun Sen urged officials to crack down at locations that were illegally modifying truck cages.
“You have to inspect the sites that install truck cages and then shut them down or warn if they dare to do so, they will be closed,” he said. “This is a matter I won’t reverse.”
He added there might be thousands of illegal trucks across the country after 200 of 500 trucks cracked down upon since his order were found to be illegally modified.
“I am surprised. When I ordered trucks with modified cages off the road the result is not hundreds of trucks but thousands,” Mr Hun Sen said.
San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, expressed anger that people could get away with illegal truck modifications because of corruption and legal loopholes.
“We doubt that cracking down on overloaded trucks and illegally modified trucks will be effective because officers are afraid of powerful groups of people or oknhas who provide transportation services,” he said, referring to people who have contributed significant sums of money to the government.
“The officials are reluctant or dare not to crack down.” Mr Hun Sen also lashed out at officials who only started implementing his order instead of enforcing existing laws.
“I would like to reaffirm that where these cases happen, those jurisdictions will be held responsible,” he said. “I am wondering whether our officials are practising law or practising order.”
Mr Hun Sen asked why police allowed modified trucks on the roads when there was a law against this. “You have to enforce the law,” he added.
He said authorities just waited for an order from the Prime Minister instead of doing their jobs.
“Before the Prime Minister’s order, they won’t do it but when they were ordered, they did it immediately,” he said. “If they had enforced the law, illegal truck modifications would not have happened.”
Transport Minister Sun Chanthol said that a truck overloaded by ten tonnes was equivalent to 10,000 cars driving on the road, which causes extensive damage.
“The government spends $200 million on repairing the roads every year,” he said.
The ministry’s annual report said a total of 2,646 overloaded trucks were fined nearly $1.3 million in 2017.
Oum Reatrey, deputy governor of Banteay Meanchey province, said officials were inspecting trucks daily to see if they were overloaded or had modified their cages.
“We implemented it daily before the recommendation of the Prime Minister,” he said, claiming there were no places to illegally modify trucks in Banteay Meanchey province.