Owners of right-hand drive automobiles face hefty fines and possible loss of their vehicles if they aren’t converted by Jan 1.
Mao Chandara, chief of staff for the Ministry of the Interior, said the deadline will be strictly enforced, although exact penalties for noncompliance haven’t been worked out.
“Step by step, the people must follow government rules,” he said, adding that the ministry hopes the Customs Department will help by stopping the smuggling of right-hand drive cars from neighboring countries.
Although the government has warned of the ban, few of the estimated 20,000 owners of right-hand drive vehicles have taken the threat seriously, said Taing Te Por, managing director of Lien Thong Company, which specializes in converting cars to left-hand drive.
He said his company has converted only a few hundred vehicles. The cost is $500 for standard car models and as much as $3,000 for top-end cars. Lien Thong Company has one of three licenses issued by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport for the work.
Nhem Saran, director of the Municipal Public Works Depart-ment said he knows some owners cannot afford to pay for the conversion. He said maybe the national Ministry of Public Works and Transport should help with the costs.
The Phnom Penh Municipality also announced a new deadline of Dec 25 for the registration of all motorcycles. The original deadline of Friday was abandoned because the municipality could not process registration requests fast enough, municipal tax chief Keo Chhoeun said Friday.
Nearly 4,000 motorcycle owners have been registering every day, Keo Chhoeun said. After Dec 25, there will be a steep rise in on-the-spot fines for unregistered motorcycles from 500 riel ($.13) to 5,000 riel ($1.30).
While most automobiles in the city are registered, an estimated 50,000 motorcycle owners still have to register, Keo Chhoeun said.