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.