A group of porters at Battambang province’s O’Romduol border checkpoint have accused border police of demanding 20,000 riel ($5) to supply licence plates which are now required for carts delivering to the local Thai market. But border police refute the accusation.
Kim Sany, 25, told The Post on Wednesday that about three months ago, border police Unit 819 announced that unless the carts had number plates, they would not be allowed to deliver goods to the market in Thailand.
“[Paying] 20,000 riel may be affordable for people who have a lot of money, but for porters who only earn a little money every day, this is not a small amount,” he said.
He said most porters (out of the estimated 200) had paid because they feared the authorities would prevent them from delivering goods to the market once the order became effective. However, he and some others did not pay.
“The order became effective last Friday. Our team of about 20 porters was banned from entering the Thai market, known as Kabin market, by border police because my cart didn’t have a number plate.
“I wanted to pay for the plate, but the police said the expiry date had passed and I needed to pay a 30,000 riel fine. Including the fee for number plate and the fine, I have to pay 50,000 riel in total,” he said.
Border police Unit 819 chief Hing Uok told The Post on Wednesday that he refutes Sany’s claim. He claimed the comments were merely aimed at ruining his reputation.
“In October later year, there was a bipartisan meeting between provincial authorities in Thailand and Cambodia."
“The Thai authorities asked Cambodia to install number plates on carts to streamline operations and for the security of workers crossing the border."
“After receiving this request, Cambodian authorities issued number plates to all porters free of charge for three months to fulfil the Thai authorities’ requirement. We supplied [number plates for] a total of 135 carts.
“After [the order became effective], the Thai authorities refused entry into Thailand to any cart without a number plate.
“A group of Cambodian workers, over 20 people, asked the Cambodian authorities to help and talk with the Thai authorities. They promised to pay the police 20,000 riel. After we helped them, they then said the police had demanded they pay money for the number plates,” he said.
Another porter at the border crossing, Om Veasna, told The Post on Wednesday that he completely agrees with Uok.
He said that three months ago, nobody demanded money for the number plates because the Thai authorities were paying the fee.
“In order to improve relations, I and the others paid 50 baht or 5,000 riel to the people who processed the documents,” he said.
Seng Seila, a Cambodia-Thai border relationship officer based at O’Romduol checkpoint, said both the Thai and Cambodian authorities said it was intended to ensure proper oversight, public order, and security for the owners of the goods being transported.
“In the past, some Cambodian and Thai clients complained that they lost their belongings because they forgot which porter they had been using."
“They asked the authorities to put number plates on each cart passing the checkpoint. It is a good way to keep everything under control,” he said.