Banteay Meanchey provincial police have called on motorbike taxi drivers to play a secondary role as crime fighters by reporting robberies, gang fights, drug dealing and other crimes they witness.
On Saturday, provincial police chief Ath Khem hosted 237 moto-taxi drivers from four districts at provincial police headquarters to discuss the new proposal.
“[Ath Khem] called them to the meeting and asked them that if they have any information or have witnessed any events involving social affairs, such as security and public order, would they please cooperate with us by reporting it,” said Nhann Chenda, the provincial police’s chief of staff, who attended Saturday’s meeting.
“We welcome them to report events include gambling, gang fighting, drug trafficking, bag snatching, robberies, violence or any crime that they know about,” he said, adding that attendees were given one sarong and 5,000 riel (about $1.25) each.
Mr. Chenda explained that the plan was for moto-taxi drivers in each commune to form into groups, with an elected leader. While admitting it was still “early days,” he said there were plans to extend the scheme.
“We are planning to meet more moto-taxi drivers soon in Poipet City, but we do not yet have a date for this,” he said.
Chhin Sophat, 46, who has worked as a moto-taxi driver in Poipet City for more than 10 years, said that while he thought the plan would help reduce some crimes, he was concerned about his own safety.
“In the past few years, I have reported about illegal gambling and then someone got revenge on me. So the next time, if police want me to report about crime, they need to protect my identity first,” he said.
About two weeks ago, Interior Minister Sar Kheng called on provincial police chiefs to do a better job of catching criminals following a spate of armed robberies, telling them to “remove your rank by yourselves” if they failed to do so.