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Agriculture ministry places cross-border travel ban in Svay Rieng

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People cross the Bavet border checkpoint in Svay Rieng. Heng Chivoan

Agriculture ministry places cross-border travel ban in Svay Rieng

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon has informed the owners of economic land concessions (ELC) of temporary suspension of all travel into and out of Cambodia by their Vietnamese employees amid an ongoing outbreak of Covid-19.

Sakhon said the suspension has been made in accordance with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s July 11 recommendation that Vietnamese companies suspend cross-border travel in order to prevent Covid-19 from spreading further.

Svay Rieng Provincial Hall spokesman Ros Pharith said on July 12 that they had already implemented the measure and informed the districts bordering Vietnam about the suspension of all cross-border travel.

“Now, we don’t have definite data about travel, which is typically just exchanging products or goods through the international checkpoints. But we can’t be careless in these circumstances, so we must tighten [travel],” he said.

Similarly in Takeo, provincial hall spokesman Ly Saveth said both Cambodia and Vietnam closely watched border traffic and that they would further strengthen controls there in light of this new directive.

“At our checkpoints, the traffic is mostly transporting rice and other products from different provinces. Currently, the rice harvest is over, so there isn’t much rice transport across the border,” he said.

Hun Sen expressed his concerns on July 9 about Covid-19 spreading along the border with Vietnam, possibly due to Vietnamese workers or traders who are traveling into and out of Cambodia. He noted that on July 1 he had advised the suspension of all cross-border travel by Vietnamese nationals, but on July 9 travel appeared to still be taking place.

“According to reports, along the Cambodia-Vietnam border there are Vietnamese people still travelling into and out of [Cambodia], so [Minister of Interior Sar Kheng] advised the provinces bordering Vietnam to suspend travel because I discussed the issue with the Vietnamese prime minister when I was in Jakarta and the other day we also talked on the phone about enforcing better controls along our border,” he said.

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