A group of 42 van drivers on May 26 requested that Por Sen Chey district authorities in Phnom Penh return their trucks and not fine them 2 million riel ($500) after they complete their 14-day quarantine.
The drivers had their vans impounded by authorities on May 8 after they were caught transporting garment workers and other passengers from red zones. Drivers were kept in quarantine for 14 days at a school in the district’s Kork Kanchan commune.
Driver Sim Duong from Prey Veng province told The Post on May 26 that they had tested negative for Covid-19 but had still been kept in quarantine for 19 days and were now fined two million riel ($500) to retrieve their vans.
He added that drivers could not afford the fine because while in quarantine they had no income. He claimed that he had not violated the ban in the zones and was only crossing a road nearby, but authorities had stopped his van then quarantined everyone.
Duong said he had followed the authorities’ instructions and respected government measures without any objections.
“We have been kept in quarantine for more than 14 days but we are still here. It’s time for me to leave and I would not be allowed to leave until I paid the fine,” he said.
Duong admitted his mistake but requested that the government show some empathy.
Seang Hak, another driver from Tbong Khmum province, said he had paid the fine because he could not wait any longer for health reasons.
He added that his son had to borrow money for the fine because during the Covid-19 outbreak and the 14-day quarantine, his family had not had an income. He also claimed he had not driven his van into the restricted area.
“I am willing to pay the money because I do not feel at ease. I developed diabetes. I could not stay to protest it like the others. I will go home and take care of myself,” he said, adding that more than 100 people including drivers, bus conductors and passengers were required to quarantine. None of them had contracted Covid-19.
Another three drivers also paid the fine to retrieve their vans.
Por Sen Chey district police chief Morn Vuthy said the authorities would allow drivers to leave after they completed quarantine and paid the fine for their van, while motorcycle owners was required to pay one million riel each.
He added that most drivers had refused to pay the fine. But by law, they could be sent to court because they had driven in the restricted area.
“Those who intruded into the red zone will be sent to court, but the municipal governor showed empathy for them and only required them to pay the fine,” he said.