Officers stationed on the newly inaugurated Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway have begun to hold drivers who break the traffic rules for reprimand and make them sign contracts promising not to repeat their offences before their release.
The drivers were held for offences including speeding, driving slower than the speed limit, driving against traffic, driving in the emergency lane, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving vehicles which were not authorised for use on the new highway and those who stopped for any reason other than an emergency.
The company running the new road posted several photographs of the officers in action on social media on October 22, saying: “Offenders were warned and made to sign strict contracts at the expressway police station.”
It called on all travellers to adhere to the conditions and instructions of the road, warning that hefty fines would begin to be issued in the coming days. The highly trained traffic unit will patrol the highway 24 hours per day, it noted.
An expressway employee who asked to remain anonymous told The Post on October 23 that while there were still some irregularities occurring on the road, there were far fewer than there had been in the first few days of the trial opening.
The number of calls to the 1399 hotline for help was still high and increasing every day, while the increase of traffic on the weekends saw a proportionate rise in incidents.
“During the trial of the expressway, the authorities are not issuing fines – just stopping them for reprimand and having them sign contracts promising to follow the rules in future. Once officially promulgated, legal penalties will be applied,” he said.
According to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, more than 190,000 vehicles passed through the expressway in the first 15 days of the trial.
“Of the [190,346] vehicles, a total of just 506 called us for help,” it said.
Kim Pagna, director of the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation, said although the expressway was free to use for October, there was no good reason for breaches of the law to go unpunished as some of the risky behaviour which received warnings could have put people’s lives in danger.
“The implementation of the law should not wait until it is officially launched; the law should have been enforced within a week of the public being let loose on the road. Some pictures were posted on Facebook and Tik Tok of people driving at very high speeds,” he said.
Pagna expects the road management team to strictly enforce the law and impose fines soon, saying he wants to see more security cameras and law enforcement officers deployed along the expressway. One of his concerns, he said, is the number of people who are still taking small motorcycles onto the road.
“People riding small motorbikes should also face legal action. I think local authorities and relevant ministries, as well as the company operating the road, should be spreading the word about this. It may be worth investigating why people are still doing this. If they are driving there because they need to – whether for work or to get home – we may need to consider establish a passage for them,” he added.
The nearly 200km-long expressway, which passes through Kandal, Kampong Speu and Koh Kong provinces, reduces travel time from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville to just two hours, as opposed to between five and six hours on National Road 4 previously.
The expressway is free to use for the month of October and will begin operating as a toll road from November 1. Drivers will pay between $12 and $60 to use the road, depending on their type of vehicle.