Following several warnings, officials in Prey Veng province’s Peamro district yesterday shuttered an illegal sand-dredging operation being run by a provincial police officer.
Chum Chea, Prek Khsay Khor commune chief, said more than 10 officers on Wednesday halted the operation and confiscated machinery, with the operation officially closed yesterday morning after a meeting was convened to address the ongoing illegal activity.
Chea identified the owner of the sand-dredging site, who also was operating an illegal sand depot, as policeman Ou Ratana. Ratana was invited to yesterday’s meeting, but failed to show up.
“He did not attend the meeting, so we practice our law to close [the site],” Chea said.
Ratana began the illegal dredging on November 24.
Seng Ponlork, Peamro district police chief, said during Wednesday’s crackdown, authorities confiscated a boat, an excavator and other equipment. In two visits last month, authorities asked Ratana to seek permission to operate legally, and made him sign two contracts saying he would, Ponlork said.
“But he still violated the two contracts,” he added.
Contact information for Ratana could not be found, but a video of Wednesday’s crackdown shows him getting into a heated argument with Ponlork, who tells him that as a policeman he should have a better understanding of police discipline. Ratana responds by saying he hadn’t been aware he was in the wrong.
“I try to run the business and you come and halt [it] like this,” he says in the video. “I am preparing to ask for permission. I stored [sand] there, and that does not affect anything.”
Chea Kakada, of the Prey Veng provincial Department of Mines and Energy, declined to comment, and the Ministry of Mines and Energy didn’t respond to a request for comment.