Dozens of military police were deployed in Phnom Penh on Wednesday as about 80 truck drivers rallied outside the General Department of Customs and Excise demanding tax breaks and for right-hand drive vehicles to be legalized, an official said.
The truck drivers came to Phnom Penh from Kompong Speu, Takeo and Kandal provinces following a confrontation in Takhmao City on Tuesday between about 30 truckers and a team of customs officials who pulled over two drivers with outstanding taxes.
Military police stood by as the group handed over a petition Wednesday calling for vehicle import taxes to be halved, right-hand drive trucks to be permitted and for the confiscation of nontax-paying vehicles to be postponed.
“Please postpone impounding vehicles on the road…so that we have a chance to make money to pay taxes to the government,” stated the petition, which was addressed to Kun Nhem, director general of the department.
“We all are low- and middle-income citizens, so we mortgaged our land and housing titles with banks to buy these trucks for making business to settle our daily livelihoods and to pay monthly installments with the banks,” the petition said.
The protesters also handed their petition to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.
Daun Penh district governor Kuoch Chamroeun said the military police, who were heavily-armed, were deployed to ensure “public order.”
“The custom officials accepted their petitions and will take their requests to be discussed and considered first…. The custom officials asked for their phone numbers and they will respond to them soon,” he said.
Mr. Nhem was unavailable for comment.