Officials at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport say that intervention from powerful individuals is still occurring in some instances when they enforce the laws on overloaded vehicles. More than 100 such vehicles were detained recently.
Ministry undersecretary of state Ek Rath told reporters on February 26 that since the government approved the release of more than 200 offending vehicles in September, its working groups have continued to seize overloaded vehicles.
He said that since October 2021, a total of 136 overloaded vehicles were stopped at mobile and stationary weigh stations across the Kingdom. The vehicles were seized for one year.
Rath claimed that officials nationwide faced problems from non-cooperative drivers and from wealthy individuals who tried to intercede in their work. This complicated the work of the ministry’s teams, he said.
“Our working groups face certain challenges. Sometimes when we stopped overloaded vehicles, the drivers did not cooperate. Sometimes they ran away from the truck, or tried to flee. And then sometimes we faced intervention by powerful people who attempt to force the release of their vehicles through various means, including threats to our officials,” he said.
Rath said these issues did not compromise their efforts to enforce the law. In the past, overloading offences were far more common, he said.
“I do not want to reveal any names, as they are powerful individuals ... We just know that when we impound some vehicles, there is always an intervention. The interventions were rarely successful, but it did make our work difficult,” he said.
On September 30 last year, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the release of 249 vehicles that were slated to be impounded for one year after being found to be overloaded by more than 20 per cent if the legal limits.
The decision was made at the request of the drivers and the understanding of the government during the Covid-19 crisis.
Public works minister Sun Chanthol noted at the time that this did not mean overloaded vehicles would continue to be tolerated and he instructed officials at all levels to step up their efforts.
The strict measures were introduced because these vehicles were responsible for most of the damage to the Kingdom’s transport infrastructure, he said.