The chatting of the Phnom Penh traffic officers standing on the corner of Street 109 and Russian Boulevard was interrupted Monday morning as a truck-taxi, tottering with bananas and luggage, came lumbering from the north.
One of the officers rushed into the street, waving his hand. The driver slowed, slipped some cash out the window, and continued on his way without a word.
If Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara keeps his promises, this everyday scene will soon become a thing of the past.
“We are not going to allow any overloaded trucks from tomorrow on,” the governor announced at a weekly meeting Monday.
However, authorities won’t be handing out any fines, just “warnings” for errant drivers, Chea Sophara said.
It is common for truck-taxi drivers to pile on luggage and commodities, cramming their cabs, flatbeds and roofs with passengers and goods and racing to and from the provinces and cities.
From now on, though, they will just have to make two trips, Chea Sophara said.
“If they want, they can leave some things outside the city and come back for it again,” the governor said.
Some truck-taxi drivers were dismayed by the crackdown.
“If I follow the directive, I won’t make any money,” driver Chon Sophal, 25, who works the route between the capital and Siem Reap, said.
But the practice of seeing overloaded trucks careening their way through the city and bribing policeman must come to an end, Chea Sophara insisted.
“We don’t want to see this,” he said on Monday. “It is shameful.”