Hun Sen Orders Ministry to Stop Issuing Driver’s Licenses

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday ordered the Ministry of Public Works and Transport to temporarily stop issuing driver’s licenses due to complaints about the prohibitive and arbitrary costs of obtaining and renewing them.

“I have received via Facebook requests from villagers asking me to reduce the fee for a driver’s license,” Mr. Hun Sen wrote in a post on his Facebook page, which was accompanied by a screenshot of a message from a young man complaining about being asked to pay $30 to renew a motorbike license at an unspecified location.

Vehicles line up outside Phnom Penh's municipal transportation department on Wednesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Vehicles line up outside Phnom Penh’s municipal transportation department on Wednesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“I ordered the Minister of the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation to postpone this process until after a meeting with institutions involved, to find a suitable solution for the people,” the prime minister added.

The new traffic law is set to take effect on Friday. As part of the legislation, those without a valid license are required to obtain one from transportation departments across the country, and motorists must have their licenses on them at all times.

“Renewing a motorbike license costs 40,000 riel [about $10] and renewing one for cars costs 60,000 [about $15],” Preap Chan Vibol, director of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport’s land transport department, said on Wednesday.

A new motorbike license costs 60,000 riel (about $15), while a new car license costs 180,000 riel (about $45), he said.

On the subject of Mr. Hun Sen’s announcement, Mr. Chan Vibol said complaints of overcharging were not his problem.

“Those people do not go directly by themselves to the places where they make driver’s licenses—they ask other people or brokers to obtain them,” he said, adding that state employees who overcharged motorists were also not his problem.

“At the places [where licenses are issued], they are required to use the official prices, but officials at the sites might set prices beyond that—and that is their responsibility.”

Or Sam Oeun, a 31-year-old high-school teacher who was obtaining a new license plate for his Honda Dream at the municipal transportation department on Wednesday, said he did not have a driver’s license and welcomed the prime minister’s comments.

“The price [of a new license] is very high,” Mr. Sam Oeun said. “The government should put a suitable price limit on a motorbike license. In my opinion, 20,000 riel [about $5] is a suitable price.”

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Prime Minister Hun Sen wrote on his Facebook page that the enforcement of a provision in the new traffic law that makes driver’s licenses mandatory for motorists would be delayed. He wrote that the issuance of licenses would be temporarily suspended.

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