Senior officials from the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and National Police lauded the current regulations on vehicle technical inspections at Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh autonomous ports.

But the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) has expressed concern that the regulations negatively affected the garment sector.

Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol barred access to the ports for vehicles which failed the inspection or whose drivers did not have a valid driver’s licence.

GMAC released a statement on Monday calling on the government to temporarily ease restrictions for the Cambodia Trucking Association.

“Many of GMAC’s members have faced long queues when importing raw materials and final products. This has caused financial losses as well as a loss of confidence from their buyers due to their inability to deliver goods on time,” the statement read.

Following a press conference at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport on Tuesday, GMAC secretary-general Ken Loo told reporters that the inspections had driven a large number of trucking companies from the ports.

He said this has led to a disruption in the transport of goods to and from garment factories.

“It has seriously affected trucking companies. They are afraid of being fined, so they do not accept goods for the factories."

“Factories have to be responsible to their buyers . . . when factories experience losses, who is responsible for it? [Some] factory owners are crying,” he said.

Chhay, the owner of a trucking company, claimed that law enforcement officers often demanded sums of money which were impossible for a large number of drivers to pay.

“Container lorries do not go to the ports because they are afraid of being fined by the police. The police catch every single mistake. They then demand hundreds of dollars. Fining people like this ... this is abusing Cambodians and garment workers,” said Chhay.

Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of state Seng Chhuon told reporters at the press conference that most vehicles complied with technical standards.

He said only a small number of heavy trucks did not comply with technical standards and that some drivers refused to cooperate with the authorities during the inspection which led to disruptions.

He dismissed the allegations of corruption among the authorities.

“Company owners have said that we, the authorities, fine them and take their money. I would like to confirm that we have all of our fines documented, with the amount as listed in the tables.”

National Police deputy chief General Hoem Yan said during the press conference that within 15 days, the ministry had inspected a total of 1,954 trucks at Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville autonomous ports.

He said around 300 trucks, accounting for 11 per cent of the total, had violated regulations and were fined in accordance with the Law on Road Traffic in a transparent manner.

“With regard to the delay in the transport of goods, we try to avoid congestion. We would like to state that the authorities are enforcing the law for everyone’s safety. Neglecting vehicle technical inspections will result in further losses,” he said.

Yan said fines are issued in accordance with the law – from 15,000 to 125,000 riel ($3.75 to $31.25) and 800,000 riel for not having a valid driver’s licence or number plate.

He said the inspections have shown positive results and are able to reduce traffic accidents on the road.

“Some of the criticisms are incorrect. I am going to refute it all,” he said.