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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Govt drafts new waterway law

Govt drafts new waterway law

Photo by: Sovan Philong

A fishing boat and a ferry on the Mekong River on Tuesday. Officials are currently reviewing a draft law that would regulate traffic on inland waterways.

A PROPOSED law regulating traffic on inland waterways would require all ship owners to display registration documents and key crewmembers to receive official certification, and would impose a range of fines and prison terms for those who fail to comply.

Chan Dara, deputy director of the Transport Department at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said ministry officials were reviewing a draft of the law, a copy of which was obtained Tuesday.

“With this new law, we hope to ensure the efficiency of businesses and safety of passengers who use the waterways,” Chan Dara said. “Before, we have had sub-decrees to enforce laws on the waterways, but this new law will ensure that the government can effectively regulate waterway traffic.”

The law would require crewmembers “engaged in waterway transport operations” to obtain an individual operational licence, which would be valid for five years. Those working as skippers, navigators, engineers or shipmasters would need to pass a certification exam.

All vessels, meanwhile, would need to have a ship-operation licence, which would be valid for one year.

Ships would also be required to carry a technical inspection book, which would lay out the technical requirements a vessel must meet before it can legally operate on Cambodian waterways.

To ensure that these requirements are met, officials would inspect ships every 12 months.

According to Chapter 15 of the law, which covers punishments, uncertified personnel navigating water vessels could face fines of between 25,000 riels (US$6) and 200,000 riels (US$48) and prison terms ranging from six days to one month.

Those operating an unlicenced ship would face identical penalties.

The forging of certification and registration documents would yield harsher punishments – fines in the draft law range from 4 million riels (US$962) to 10 million riels (US$2,403), and prison terms range from two to five years.

Article 21 of the draft law states that the Ministry of Public Works and Transport would be tasked with “the administration, organisation, utilisation and development of inland waterways”. The ministry would also oversee the vessel-registration process.

Hei Bavy, director general of the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port, said Tuesday that he believed certification requirements for crew members would ensure safety on Cambodian waterways.

Mao Vannarith, deputy chief of the municipal water traffic safety police, said he was optimistic that the law could be implemented effectively.

“The law will help police be more effective in doing our job, and it will educate people working on the waterways to be more compliant with safety and ship-traffic regulations,” he said.

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