Hun Sen orders officials to amend road rules to allow police to impound motorbikes
Traffic police pull over a motorcyclist for not wearing a helmet in Phnom Penh Wednesday on Monivong Boulevard.
POLICE could be empowered to seize and confiscate motorbikes without side mirrors under a Land Traffic Law amendment proposed by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Drivers without helmets would also be subject to the amendment suggested in a speech Tuesday.
"I think that the best way to avoid and reduce road accidents in the future is to catch and hold onto motorbikes and stop levying fines," Hun Sen said during a speech at the Ministry of Interior.
The prime minister pressed the ministries of interior, justice, and public works and transport to cooperate closely to enforce the rules.
He added that road accidents were a serious problem that had negative effects on economic development and poverty reduction.
"Police must keep the motorbikes, and when the owners have helmets and side mirrors, they can get their motorbikes back, and I will grant the owners one litre of petrol as an encouragement for them," Hun Sen said.
A rising toll
According to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the first four months of 2009 saw 2,137 accidents and 579 deaths on Cambodia's roads - a 1.58 percent increase on the same period last year.
The whole of 2008 saw 1,638 road deaths, and the loss of an estimated US$200 million worth of property.
Eung Chung Huor, general director of the General Transportation Department at the Transport Ministry, said that the ministry would re-examine existing traffic legislation to identify the articles that needed to be amended.
"We think that it will take a long time to amend this law because we have to check all the articles that are being enforced before sending it to the National Assembly," he said.
The Land Traffic Law, approved by the National Assembly in 2007, authorises police to issue on-the-spot 3,000 riel fines to motorbike drivers not wearing a helmet and 4,000 riels for those lacking side mirrors.
There are more than 1 million vehicles, including around 800,000 motorbikes and 200,000 cars, on Cambodia's roads.
Tin Prasoeur, Phnom Penh traffic police chief, told the Post Tuesday that despite the passage of the law, only around half of motorcyclists wear helmets and have side mirrors.
"I think it is good that the law [will] allow police to catch the motorbikes to warn those who do not respect the law because fining them does not seem to be very effective," he said.