Handcart-Pullers Block Border Checkpoint Over Bribes

More than 100 handcart-pullers who transport goods across the Cambodian-Thai border protested at the Poipet International Checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey province on Thursday, accusing the Poipet City governor of breaking his promise to stop customs officials from demanding exorbitant bribes of them.

“The customs officials doubled the fee verbally, and give us receipts that are not official,” said one handcart-puller, who declined to give his name for fear of reprisals from local authorities.

Another handcart-puller, who for the same reason gave his name only as Mao, said city governor Ngor Mengchuon last month promised to intervene after customs officials relocated to a new checkpoint and abruptly raised the amount of money they demanded for each load transported into Cambodia.

Mr. Mengchuon could not be reached Thursday.

Chhuon Hay, chief of customs at the checkpoint, said Thursday’s protest caused a major traffic jam at the border.

“There were 40 carts blocking the Poipet International Checkpoint today…and tour buses and cement trucks couldn’t move,” he said.

Mr. Hay said his officials did not ask for bribes, but regularly fined handcart-pullers who attempted to smuggle illegal goods into the country.

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