POLICE and customs officials confiscated 320 new motorbikes in Kampong Cham province on Friday morning as part of a crackdown on shops that import bikes without paying the necessary taxes on them, provincial police Chief Nuon Samin told the Post Sunday.
Nuon Samin said roughly 70 officials and provincial and military police officers were involved in the operation, which he said had been ordered by Pen Simon, the director general of the customs and excise department at the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
Van Sarey, deputy director of the Kampong Cham customs and excise department, said the bikes included Honda Waves, Clicks, Icons and Air Blades, and that all were models dating from 2007 to 2010.
Nuon Samin said the bikes would be kept temporarily at the provincial customs department, and that the owners of the shops from which the bikes were taken would be allowed to retrieve them once the taxes had been paid along with a fine equal to 50 percent of the taxes.
"We are very pleased that we have had good cooperation with the customs office, so that we can continue with the ongoing crackdown," he said.
He said officials believed there were about 60,000 motorbikes in the province for which taxes had not been paid.
I am now scared to drive my bike because [of] ... this massive crackdown.
Kampong Cham town resident Sok Sambath, 44, said he recently purchased an illegally imported Honda Wave 2009 series motorbike from one of the shops involved in the raid. He said the bike had been made in Vietnam and was driven over the border.
Van Sarey said officials believed most illegally imported bikes were driven over the border from Vietnam and Thailand.
"As far as I know, most bikes have been brought for sale in Cambodia by Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese drivers through theft or robbery in their countries," he said.
Sok Sambath said his bike had cost him roughly US$570, whereas others for which taxes had been paid had cost about $750.
Though he said he believed the crackdown would ultimately "improve social order and eliminate crimes", he said he was hesitant to ride his own motorbike out of fear that the police might confiscate it.
"I am now scared to drive my bike because the police just conducted this massive crackdown to confiscate illegal bikes from shops and to warn shop owners to pay the taxes," he said.