Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said on Tuesday that 98 per cent of Cambodia’s tuk-tuk and PassApp drivers do not have driving licences and have a poor awareness of the road traffic law.
Chanthol called on the drivers to attend driving schools within three months, saying that authorities would take legal action against them without exception as they are a major factor in traffic congestion and road accidents.
At a meeting of the National Committee on Road Traffic Safety at the Ministry of the Interior on Tuesday, Chanthol said Cambodia has 20,000 tuk-tuk and PassApp drivers, but many remain unlicensed and drive dangerously.
“The ministry will give them three months to attend driving schools and get their licences. Beyond this time, the ministry will implement the law by fining them without any exceptions whatsoever,” he said.
In addition, the ministry will not allow any heavy trucks, trailers or buses onto the roads if they do not meet technical specifications or their drivers do not hold a licence, he said.
There were 1,076 traffic accidents in the Kingdom during the first three months of this year, killing 513 people – most of whom were helmetless motorcyclists – and injuring a further 1,592, according to a report by the National Police’s Department of Traffic Police and Public Order.
The report indicated that traffic accidents in the first three months of this year increased 31 per cent compared to the same period last year.
The death toll increased by seven per cent (33 people) and injuries by 29 per cent (358 people).
Most traffic accidents occurred in Phnom Penh – where 91 people were killed – followed by Kampong Speu province (39) and Preah Sihanouk province (32).
On average, road accidents killed six people and injured 18 more each day.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the National Committee on Road Traffic Safety, Minister of Interior Sar Kheng – who is also the committee’s chairman – urged all parties to seek further solutions to reduce road accidents.
“We cannot eradicate road accidents completely, but we must try hard to unite to prevent and curb road accidents in order to keep them to a minimum."
“We have to participate in strengthening the enforcement of laws on a daily basis when travelling on the streets,” he said.
PassApp driver Meng Ly, 30, told The Post that he has not held a driver’s licence since he first started working as a tuk-tuk driver in the middle of last year.
Regardless, he said he had learned the main points of Cambodia’s traffic laws and always observed traffic lights and traffic signs and respected other road users.
“Although I do not hold a driver’s licence for my tuk-tuk, my driving has never caused road accidents."
“However, I will learn and take my driving examination for the sake of obedience and enforcement of traffic laws to minimise the rate of casualties in Cambodia,” he said.
Srun Veasna, a member of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) – an NGO founded by tuk-tuk drivers, petty traders and small restaurant workers – voiced his support for the ministry’s crackdown on unlicensed drivers and poor road safety.
He requested that all officials do not accept bribes or commit corrupt practises when penalising drivers who violate traffic laws.
According to Veasna, over the past week, his association sent 40 tuk-tuk drivers to take their driving test, with the applicants now awaiting their new licences.