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Vehicles to be confiscated

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Officials gather at the Interior Ministry for a meeting on the Land Traffic Law on Thursday.

As part of plan to ramp up Traffic Law enforcement, police will be authorised to confiscate vehicles beginning Saturday.

INTERIOR Minister Sar Kheng said Thursday that a new effort to enforce the Land Traffic Law would lead to the confiscation of vehicles lacking side mirrors or licence plates as well as motorbikes ridden by drivers without helmets.

"We are not just imposing this law out of nowhere," Sar Kheng said, noting that the law had been approved by the National Assembly in 2007 and that his ministry had issued a directive in June stating that it would step up enforcement of the law on August 1.

"The people should know. We informed them one month ago to be cautious."

During a meeting at the ministry Thursday morning, Sar Kheng told municipal officials, provincial governors and Traffic Police officers that police were authorised to seize vehicles until fines could be paid and infractions remedied.

Motorbike drivers caught riding without helmets will be given the option of purchasing a helmet on the spot or having their bikes confiscated.

Any vehicle being driven without a licence plate or side mirrors will be confiscated, and drivers will be required to pay fines for infractions as well as a fee of 20,000 riels (US$4.75) for vehicle storage. The vehicle will only be released when it is fully equipped with a license plate and mirrors.

Under Article 79 of the Land Traffic Law, driving a vehicle without a licence plate incurs a fine of between 25,000 and 200,000 riels ($6-$48).

Under Article 88, driving a motorbike without a helmet incurs a fine of 3,000 riels.

Sar Kheng instructed all municipal and provincial governors to identify one or two hectares of land where confiscated vehicles could be stored.

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said during the meeting that municipal officials had identified four places in which to store vehicles confiscated in the capital - Olympic Stadium, district police stations, the offices of district governors and the night market on Street 108 when it is not in use.

Persistent problem
The plan to ramp up enforcement of the Land Traffic Law comes as national deaths from crashes reportedly average more than four a day.

Keo Savin, director of land transport at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said by phone Thursday that 1,039 people had been killed in traffic accidents so far in 2009, compared to 1,638 for all of 2008.

Kep Chuktema said he believed City Hall needed to implement additional measures to make the roads safer, including relocating businesses set up on city sidewalks.

"The people running their businesses on the sidewalks park their cars on the roads next to them, which makes the roads in Phnom Penh become narrow," he said.

"This is a problem we have to solve in order to avoid traffic congestion."

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