Authorities in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district Friday temporarily seized seven trucks transporting pigs to Phnom Penh for Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations, after road checks revealed the pig traders lacked the required animal transport license or had failed to pay tax over their cargo, officials and traders said yesterday.
Oun Sophat, Kien Svay district military police chief, said officers posted along National Road 1 leading to Phnom Penh had impounded seven trucks and their livestock around midnight Friday and released the trucks the following afternoon after fining the traders.
“There were 727 pigs in seven trucks impounded,” Mr Sophat said, adding, “Those pigs were being transported without a license from the Ministry of Agriculture.”
“We decided to release the pig transport after the officials from the [Agriculture Ministry’s] department of animal health and production fined the pig traders,” he said. Mr Sophat could however, not confirm the fine amount imposed on the traders.
Hang Chum Nas, a pig trader from Prey Veng province’s Kompong Trabek district, said his truck carrying 20 pigs had been seized Friday after officials found he had failed to pay the transport tax on his swine.
“I paid three million riel [about $730] to the officials at the animal health department then I got my pigs back,” he said, adding other smaller pig traders lacking transport licenses were fined around $250.
Mr Chum Nas said he had not paid his taxes because he was too late to register with the provincial agriculture department, which was closed Friday because of Chinese New Year. He added that he thought officials would let him pass without tax payment receipts because “it’s Chinese New Year and I thought there would be forgiveness.”
Last week Phnom Penh pork vendors and the Ministry of Agriculture reached an agreement over a recently introduced government license on pig transport, which had been opposed by a group of 480 vendors and slaughterhouse owners. The ministry agreed to speed up the issuing of pig transport licenses, as traders had complained it took weeks to obtain a license.
San Chanthet, a representative of the group, said the traders whose cargo was impounded Friday had probably failed to acquaint themselves with the transport regulation, which was introduced in December.
“This is a mistake by the pig traders… Some of the pig buyers don’t know how to get the license from the ministry,” he said, adding, most traders had however, become familiar with the transport license, which he said now only took a few days to complete.