Ratanakkiri provincial authorities inspected an area around Post No 27 in Phikrom village, Sesan commune, O’Yadav district, to investigate illegal cross-border forestry offences following rumours of timber being illegally transported via waterways to Vietnam.
Ratanakkiri military police commander Thav Yen confirmed on Wednesday that a mix of local and national forces convened at the scene.
“We heard information about forestry offences along the border but so far we have not found anything.
“We also invited the Vietnamese side to talk about cracking down on border crimes together. We have to help each other and Vietnam agreed to work with us,” he said.
He said after discussions with the Vietnamese officials, a joint commission conducted a search of the area for evidence of timber smuggling.
However, there was no noticeable activity, and no activity was seen on the waterway, which was silent.
Provincial deputy governor Lun Sopheap could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
But Fresh News quoted a speech he gave on Wednesday during which he said his team had been in discussion with Vietnamese officials because Cambodian authorities had found several pieces of timber hidden in Vietnamese waters.
Vietnamese officials said they didn’t know if the timber was transported by boat from Cambodia or if it came from Vietnam.
Forestry activist Heng Sros said on Wednesday the area in Phikrom village is very sensitive for forest crimes, and that traders had already cleared the area of timber before officials arrived.
Sros said logging activities in Ratanakkiri had not decreased from 2016 to 2020.
He said he doesn’t believe local and provincial officials are seriously trying to prevent forest crimes because they only patrol irregularly and drive along the highway.
“Our authorities patrol with 10 or 20 people on normal streets or national roads, just like they were out on a hike. If you want to catch forest crimes, go into the forest and find the offender. But if you only drive on the street, there’s no hope of cracking down on forest crimes,” he said.