Transport Ministry setting the pace for change

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Sun Chanthol, Minister of Transport. Khmer Times

The Ministry of Transport has recently rolled out a number of innovative products and services aiming to ease citizens’ daily commutes and increase their access to advance technology, said Minister Sun Chanthol to Khmer Times in an exclusive interview.

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The minister said his ministry is not waiting for instructions from above. Instead, it is the driving force behind the implementation of new ideas and technologies in the country’s transport sector.

For example, he said, Cambodia is the first country in the world to use QR codes on vehicle license plates.

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“QR codes make the job of the police easier. They can trace if the car plate belongs to the car. At the same time, it helps the ministry increase tax collection,” Mr Chanthol said.

He told Khmer Times the ministry has collected a whopping $3 million thanks to the online car plate number registration system.

The National Online Automation System for Vehicle Registration was launched in January 2017, together with a number of apps for mobile devices that seek to improve the transportation sector, including Driver’s License Registration and Test, Technical Vehicle Inspection Registration, and Cambodia Driving Rules.

“Before this system, car plate numbers were sold by middlemen. They will go buy a number in the registration department and sell it to the highest bidder outside.

“With the online system, there is no cheating. This system was approved by me and the prime minister. Now it is all tied to the person’s name. You want this number, you pay for it and you get it. It is online and you can do it in the car or motorbike dealership and there is no way it can be bypassed.

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Cambodia is the first country in the world to use QR codes in its licenses plates. Khmer Times

“The system helps us generate a lot of money. Before I took over, the department was making $250,000 to $500,000, but with the new system, we generated $3 million during the first three months,” Mr Chanthol said.

He said the ministry also established license renewal centres at Aeon Mall and Aeon Mall 2.

“Why are we doing that? We want to make the process of renewing a license faster. When I took over, the PM asked me to give him a 100-day action plan. So I went back to create something that really stood up so that people would notice what we are doing. The driver license renewal centre is very successful,” he said.

He also said a number of reforms were made to the car inspection department. When he took over the ministry, there were only 10 to 12 inspection centres, all run by the same company. He decided to let more companies offer these services.

According to him, Prime Minister Hun Sen was instrumental in the transformations when he agreed to the changes and the need for another company to invest in the car inspection segment.

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“But more than that, I could not stand seeing the citizens drive 50 miles to get their car inspection done. So we decided to bring the services closer to the people. We now have the mobile car inspection services.

“We are the servants of the people and we have to find a way to serve them better. This is the mentality we have at our ministry: to help provide better services to the people with new, creative ways.

“There were a lot of headaches. The issuance of driver’s licenses and car license plates and special license plates was a headache. We established the online car registration services which we hooked up to the car dealerships who can now install the cars and motorbike plate numbers right there at their shops. This is done through our online registration services. This is what Prime Minister Hun Sen wants. Something new and useful to the public,” he said.

The app for driver’s licenses allows Cambodians to use their mobile devices to learn about traffic laws. They can even use it to take a written exam, he said.

The minister said if they pass the exam on the app, and take driving lessons, they can sit the real exam. If they pass it, they get a 3-month license.

“Again about the license, 20 years ago people could bring any picture. They could bring that of their uncle and nobody cared. But now that’s no more the case.

“I am not yet 100 percent satisfied with the system because there is still room for mistakes. We are now thinking of putting a camera in the car to solve some of these issues.

“I am trying to ease the whole process. For example, renewing your license at Aeon Mall now takes as little as 15 minutes. This is a significant improvement from before. It is fast and you don’t need to pay extra fees,” he said.

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