Kampong Cham Provincial Governor Hun Neng bowed to the pressure of more than 100 angry truck drivers and owners outside his house yesterday afternoon, agreeing to return fines of almost $10,000 to three of them, they said.
Truck owner Chheang Kosal, 33, was travelling as a passenger in her truck – which was carrying 23.5 tonnes of cassava more than the legal limit – when she was fined about $3,500 by Ministry of Public Works and Transport officials yesterday morning.
“Two other officials and I paid the money, but they did not provide official documentation of the fine,” she said. “So we decided to protest to the ministry to demand the money back.”
The three owners rallied about 50 truck drivers from surrounding districts and provinces for the protest outside the ministry’s office in Kampong Cham town.
When the demands of the fired-up protesters were ignored, the group called on more of their fellow drivers and owners to lend support.
Fairly soon, a group of more than 100 incensed truckers was converging on Neng’s house.
Kosal said that by 5:30pm, the governor had intervened on the grounds that the ministry officials had not given them official documentation outlining the fine and the money had been returned to the three owners.
Pen Boran, a leading official from the ministry involved in the crackdown on 11 drivers – eight of whom had fled – said some of the drivers had been exceeding the load limit by up to 40 tonnes.
Another truck owner, Lei Soktry, 25, said drivers could not survive if they stuck to the legal limits as they would not be able to afford gas or to pay their workers.
Neng could not be reached for comment yesterday.
To contact the reporter on this story: Khouth Sophak Chakrya at firstname.lastname@example.org