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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Just sitting on the dock of the bay

Just sitting on the dock of the bay

Customs officials at Sihanoukville's port want permission to auction off the contents

of 105 unclaimed shipping containers packed with cars, cigarettes and textiles.

The containers have been accumulating since 1999 and goods up for grabs include 100

right-hand-drive vehicles which are prohibited by the Cambodian government, said

Khoy Veng, director of the subcommittee dealing with unclaimed imports at Sihanoukville

Autonomous Port.

Auctioned goods would be subject to public bidding and the money would be paid into

the national budget, Veng said.

Veng said there were two main reasons why goods remained uncollected: the importers

found no demand for the goods on the Cambodian market or they couldn't afford to

pay the required tax.

Customs has been trying to sell the increasing number of unclaimed containers for

the last six years. After the Sihanoukville provincial court was unable to deliver

a ruling, the matter was moved to the Appeals Courts, where a decision is pending.

But Veng said the courts have given customs officials permission to auction 90 percent

of the goods within the other 55 containers.

The next step is for the Council of Ministers to decide on the value of the products

marked for auction before interested companies or individuals can bid. About 80 percent

of the unclaimed goods can still be sold, said Veng. The rest are food products that

have expired or damaged goods.

Shipping containers stored at the port for more than 45 days are fined 0.1 percent

of the total value of the container's goods per day. Once the goods have been collecting

fines for three months, customs can file a complaint to the court to auction the

containers.

The Sihanoukville port allows containers to be stored for five days free of charge,

said a port official, who spoke on the condition on anonymity. After that, they also

begin charging the container's owners.

The official said the port authorities will request a share of the auction price

to cover their storage costs.

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