Fruit Trucks Block Road In Customs Fee Protest

About 30 truck drivers transporting fruit blocked National Road 5 in Banteay Meanchey province’s O’Chrou district for an hour yesterday after customs of­ficials arrested six of their fellow drivers for refusing to pay fees they thought were unreasonable, drivers said. 

Nou Sal, 35, who transports fruit from Poipet through Banteay Meanchey pro­vince to Siem Reap, said that drivers were fed up with customs and tax officials demands for money, which have escalated over the past four years.

“They arrested our co­workers because they refused to pay the fees at several places,” said Mr. Sal, who estimated there were now six or seven customs stops be­tween Poipet and Siem Reap pro­vince.

“We agreed to give the of­ficers 200,000 riel [about $50], but they demanded $500. We lost our patience with this exploitation, so we protested,” he added.

Pro­vincial governor Try Narin said that he had intervened to free the ar­­rested drivers but declined to com­­ment further.

Sun Theourn, 38, another trucker, said he hoped the authorities would eliminate the extra customs stops, which he estimated had reduced his profits by 20 percent.

“We want to only pay fees one time, in one place,” he said.

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