Hundreds of security cameras will be installed along major roads in Sihanoukville to monitor traffic and increase security next year.
Major General Chuon Narin, chief of Preah Sihanouk provincial police, yesterday said a total of 600 cameras will be placed in 500 central locations in Sihanoukville, including along 34 newly-constructed roads.
“Six hundred cameras will indeed be installed in 500 important places to monitor activities related to security,” Maj Gen Narin said. “A command centre will be in the Preah Sihanouk police headquarters.”
He said provincial authorities and experts have already surveyed the locations. He said the cameras will be purchased by the government.
Maj Gen Narin added that technology plays an important role in ensuring public security.
“The cameras will help alert police when people are trying to hide their infraction or crime – they will not be able to do that,” he said. “They will not be able to argue against their mistakes anymore. Security is important for a developing country.”
Security in Sihanoukville has been an ongoing issue following an influx of Chinese investments in the once quiet coastal town.
Some 250,000 Chinese nationals are living and working in the Kingdom, including about 100,000 each in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, according to a recent National Police report.
Safety concerns in the Sihanoukville prompted authorities to create specialised groups aimed at curbing crimes being committed by foreigners.
In August, the National Police formed an 11-member working group, drawn from senior officials from various departments to evaluate the security situation in the province. It reported that an increase in Chinese investments led to Chinese setting up criminal networks.
Interior Minister Sar Kheng also ordered the creation of a taskforce to provide additional support for provincial authorities to crack down on crimes.
Mr Kheng noted that crimes plaguing Preah Sihanouk include murder, drug trafficking, gambling, extortion and kidnapping.
When asked whether the cameras will address crimes being committed by Chinese nationals, Maj Gen Narin said police will equally treat every suspect.
“We are the authorities – we will prioritise tackling crime and stand with the law,” he said. “We will enforce the law on everyone without discrimination.”
Major General Heng Chantheary, director of the National Police’s traffic police and public order department, yesterday said the cameras will be ready to monitor activities in Sihanoukville by the middle of next year.
“All cameras will be ready at the same time…in July or August,” Maj Gen Chantheary said.
Kong Ratanak, acting director of the Institute for Road Safety, yesterday said the authorities will primarily use the cameras to address traffic and general security issues.
“It is a good sign. I think using cameras to track activities is good, but the implementation of the cameras should be announced before they go online,” Mr Ratanak said. “It can be effective if the authorities do not discriminate.”
However, Mr Ratanak warned the cameras can be misused if the authorities are not transparent about whom they target.
“We already know in Cambodia, intervention is used by high-ranking people and rich people, so the authorities cannot immediately claim success,” he said.
Regarding traffic accidents involving Chinese nationals, Mr Ratanak said provincial authorities should consider providing Chinese-language driving tests for those who want licences so Chinese nationals understand traffic laws in the Kingdom.
“If Chinese people are the traffic offenders, we should have a way to educate them about our laws in Chinese – they should be tested like Cambodians,” he said. “It will help reduce accidents.”
In the first ten months of this year, the number of road fatalities across the Kingdom rose to 1,665 people, an increase of ten percent over last year. Aside from the death toll, the accidents injured 5,212 people, up 33 percent. The number of accidents also rose to 3,453, up 28 percent.