About 50 members of the Peace Taxi Network marched from Banteay Meanchey’s Poipet town to Siem Reap province yesterday to demand that customs officials return two taxis seized last month and put an end to a system ridden with unofficial payments.
“We’re peacefully striking to demand the two cars and to stop the daily collection of money from our drivers, because we transport goods and it is not a crime,” said the network’s director, Oung Thabrang.
The drivers pick up goods after they have already cleared customs and been taxed, only to have additional payments demanded when they try to transport them to their Cambodian purchasers, he said.
But Banteay Meanchey provincial governor Soun Borvor said buyers of goods with high taxes sometimes try to skip paying, and that custom officials have been urged to put a halt to the smuggling.
He called for customs officials and the drivers to work together to find a solution. “This case has in the hands of upper-level officials already, so if we want to seek intervention to free those vehicles, it will be hard. But I am determined to negotiate,” he said.
Sum Chankea, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said: “The goods are checked at the international border checkpoint already and the customs officials should not pursue those hired vehicles.”
Banteay Meanchey customs director Chher Socheat declined to comment.