In light of a new traffic sub-decree which will raise fines for traffic violations on May 1, a surge of people applied for driving lessons, licences and vehicle inspections over the past two days, said the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.
The ministry said in a Facebook post that all vehicle inspection service centres will stay open seven days a week, starting from Monday.
The Phnom Penh Public Works and Transport department confirmed on Thursday that applications for driving lessons and licences had tripled over the past two days.
General Department of Land Transport director Chhoun Von said on Thursday: “I don’t have an exact figure now. But I received information that between 130 and 300 vehicles have been visiting auto centres in the city for inspections and licence applications.
“In the provinces, 40 to 50 are arriving each day, compared to just a few a day normally.”
The ministry requested that people practice social distancing, maintain good hygiene, and wear face masks while visiting the centres.
Responding to criticism that the increased fines will put more of a burden on people already dealing with Covid-19, Minister of Interior and head of the National Road Safety Committee Sar Kheng said taking citizens’ money was not the main objective.
Sar Kheng said at a ministry meeting that the sub-decree was passed in response to last year’s increase in traffic accidents.
He noted the severity of the accidents, saying they created orphans and caused families great pain.
The ministry, the National Police, and traffic police, he said, have a duty to ensure the people’s safety.
“Police will not stop our compatriots who respect traffic laws. The innocent can travel smoothly. Only when motorists disobey the traffic laws will they be stopped and asked for their documents,” he said.
The new sub-decree states that those who drive without a licence or with a suspended or revoked licence would be fined 1.2 million riel ($294) for small cars, and 2.4 million riel for lorries.
Drivers with an expired licence or an incorrect licence will be fined 180,000 riel for small cars and 375,000 riel for lorries.
In a Thursday Facebook post, Prime Minister Hun Sen said people must have valid driver’s licences and have their vehicles inspected if they want to avoid fines.
The government has prepared 3,919 police personnel to enforce the new sub-decree.
Last year, traffic accidents killed 1,981 people and injured 6,141. In 2018, 1,761 traffic deaths and 4,770 injuries were reported.