Crackdown Creates License Plate Demand

Hundreds of Phnom Penh mo­torists lined up at the municipal Department of Public Works and Transportation on Wednesday to ap­ply for new license plates following a police crackdown fo­cused on motorcycles without plates.

To Sochanthy, chief of City Hall’s motorcycle authority, said by telephone that since the crackdown, which started Saturday and involved police confiscating mo­torcycles without license plates, his office had received more than 1,300 motorcycle owners applying for plates.

“Most of the motorcycles are new,” he said, adding that it costs $12.50 to apply for a new license plate—$11.25 for the plate and $1.25 for the application form.

“However, some people like to pay extra for the license to issue it faster,” he said, but appealed to the public not to pay bribes to his staff or brokers standing outside offering to speed up the process.

Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth said Tuesday that police had confiscated more than 200 motorcycles, mostly those belonging to young people, since the crackdown began.

“Our activities are to strengthen traffic laws and prevent criminal acts,” he said, adding that confiscated motorcycles are returned to their owners once the license plates are obtained.

At the Department of Public Works and Transportation on Wed­­nes­day, young riders claimed that police officers requested large payments in return for not confiscating their bikes.

Sith Rithy, a 19-year-old Siso­wath High School student standing in line to get his new license plate, said that police confiscated his mo­torcycle Monday and kept it after he refused to pay $20.

On Wednesday he decided to pay to get his motorcycle back.

“At last I decided to pay them [$3.75] to release my motorbike,” he said.

Touch Naruth denied that officers were demanding money from owners of motorcycles that were confiscated in the crackdown.

“We just kept their motorcycles and asked them to go get a license plate,” he said Wednesday.

Sann Socheata, road safety program manager for Handicap Inter­national, said Tuesday that from a safety point of view, she would prefer if police focused their efforts on cracking down on individuals without drivers licenses rather than those without plates.

“If they apply for the license plate, it doesn’t mean that they can drive well,” she said. “License plates are not really applicable to road safety.”

(Additional reporting by James Welsh)


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