For the second time in two weeks anarchy broke out at the Poipet border checkpoint Monday, as 70 military police and immigration police officers clashed with more than 100 secondhand-clothes vendors, according to officials.
The vendors were allegedly trying to tear down a metal barricade and push their way into Thailand without paying to cross the border, O’Chrov district police chief Oeung Song You said by Tuesday.
“We just blocked them from exporting the clothes because they did not pay fees,” he said.
No one was injured in the clash, which caused delays for foreigners and other merchants attempting to cross the border with Thailand, Oeung Song You said.
Banteay Meanchey Deputy Governor Em Phoansophal said provincial authorities had demanded since Thursday that vendors crossing the border pay 150 riel per kg of merchandise. The charge to vendors is for using public streets to load and unload their stock, he said.
Before Thursday, most vendors simply bribed officials and ignored the fee, he said, adding the secondhand-clothes vendors are the only group refusing to pay.
“I could not let this anarchy go on longer. I will use the law. I have a solution to end this,” he said, adding the government will attempt to renegotiate the fee with the vendors rather than re-erect the barricade.
Em Phoansophal estimated that the province had lost $76,000 per year since 2004 due to uncollected border-crossing fees.
The Poipet border crossing is internationally renowned for being difficult for tourists to cross, and from Dec 10 to 12 rival taxi and bus company employees manhandled and shoved tourists in an aggressive competition for business at the checkpoint.
In some cases employees ripped bags off tourist’s shoulders placing them into their vehicles.