Traffic police on Monivong Boulevard keep a lookout for law breakers.
hnom Penh police have collected 8 million riel ($2,000) and confiscated about 5,000
cars and motorbikes during a five-month crackdown on unregistered vehicles and traffic
offenses, according to the officer in charge.
Kim Yidath, Phnom Penh municipal traffic police chief, said more than 400 police
and military police officers had been deployed in the city to check for drivers breaking
road rules or driving without proper papers.
Motorists who drove through red lights or stopped beyond the painted intersection
markers were also being targeted, Yidath said.
He said the blitz was undertaken on the order of Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Kep
Chuktema, who wanted to encourage drivers to respect the traffic laws.
The official fine for unregistered motorbikes is 2,000 riel, or 5,000 riel for cars,
Yidath said, adding that drivers could incur additional penalties if caught committing
Chha Samol, a traffic policeman stationed on the corner of Mao Tse Tung Boulevard
and Russian Boulevard, estimated that his men have confiscated about 100 motorbikes
from drivers with missing number plates or fraudulent papers.
"I think that about 80 percent of motorbikes and cars were returned to the drivers
so they could apply for legal number plates, rather than waste time with the police
taking them to the station," Samol said.
For those who can produce the right documents, the vehicles are handed back for 2,000
riel per offence, Yidath said.
Officially, 60 percent of the money collected by police is for the Phnom Penh municipality,
with the remaining 40 percent kept by police headquarters, Yadath said.
In reality, however, some police officers are using the registration checks and the
threat of impounding vehicles to extort bribes, with officers sometimes demanding
$20 or more but often accepting less after negotiating with violators.
Sreng Nay was stopped by police officers on July 26 and asked to produce her license
and registration. She called the crackdown unfair and corrupt, saying drivers with
government, military or police number plates were rarely stopped at checkpoints.
"Because we are poor and powerless, we cannot escape the law enforcement,"
she said. "We would not be angry if the practice was fair and transparent."
Another driver whose motorcycle was impounded said officers demanded he pay a $20
"garage fee" before they would return his motorbike.
Yidath denied that his men were charging extra fees and said anyone with complaints
should call 012 999 999. But officers fielding phone calls at that number said it
was the police emergency hotline, not the complaints department.
Yidath then suggested complaints should be raised directly with officers at the municipal
traffic police headquarters on the corner of Monivong and Russian Boulevards.
No end date for the crackdown had been set, he added.