The government’s strict enforcement efforts against oversized trucks are starting to ensnare legal trucks at checkpoints, further hampering the time-sensitive garment industry, according to the head of the country’s largest trucking federation.
“There are many checkpoints on the national roads, and legal trucks must face every checkpoint,” Sin Chanthy, president of Cambodia Freight Forwarders Association, said today. “It affects our time frame for delivering goods to our clients.”
The crackdown began on February 10 following a speech by Prime Minister Hun Sen in which he threatened to sack any provincial governors who failed to eliminate oversized and overloaded trucks on their roads. In a speech today, the premier reiterated his call to cut down trucks longer than 16 metres.
The Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) has previously contended that the majority of trucks serving their factories that violate the law are second-hand shipping vehicles from the US and EU and are not modified, but do exceed the 16-metre limit imposed by Cambodian law.
Four days after Hun Sen’s original announcement, GMAC issued an open letter to the prime minister appealing for a delay in implementing the law, which it described as a “new threat” to Cambodia’s largest manufacturing industry. GMAC’s deputy secretary-general Kaing Monika said at the time that the crackdown would have negative effects on the industry, which manufactures the bulk of Cambodia’s exports, if it was not resolved within the week.
Officials from GMAC could not be reached today. Chanthy said he had not heard of a resolution from the Ministry of Public Works and Transport since he met with Transportation Minister Sun Chanthol on Feb. 14, and added that checkpoints around the country were delaying even legal trucks. For example, four separate checkpoints were set up along the 21-kilometre stretch of National Road 6 from Prek Pnov Bridge to Prek Tamak Bridge today, he said.
Since Feb. 10, checkpoints to catch illegal trucks have been set up in “almost every district” in the country, according to Va Simsorya, a spokesman for the transport ministry.
“This is our duty, to check all the vehicles following the premier’s order,” he said yesterday. “So we have to install the checkpoints in almost every district across the country, to control it efficiently.”
Simsorya declined to comment on Chanthy’s concern that legal vehicles were being delayed by the numerous checkpoints. He also declined to comment on Chanthy’s suggestion that vehicles stopped at a checkpoint and deemed legal should receive a stamp, allowing them to skip future checkpoints.
In the first nine days of the crackdown, the transport industry had checked 34,902 vehicles, reducing the length of 476 trucks at the checkpoint where they were stopped and impounding another 448 for later cutting, according to Simsorya.