The Ministry of Public Works and Transportation announced Sunday that officials will start implementing the new traffic law following a Sept 11 publicity event at the Olympic Stadium.
Although the new traffic law, signed by King Norodom Sihamoni in February, was meant to go into effect Saturday, this was delayed until after the Sept 11 event to make people aware of the law, said Ung Chun Huor, the ministry’s transport director general, Sunday.
“We have tried so hard to make people aware by opening [free] traffic law classes for them, but the result is very, very low,” he said. He expects nearly 2,000 people to attend the event.
More than 300 students along with nine NGOs sent a petition to the Interior Ministry and Public Works Ministry on Friday voicing their concerns about the law coming into effect. “Civil society, students and people are worried about the law, that…it is not widely disseminated,” their petition said.
Yong Kim Heng, president of NGO People Center for Development and Peace, which endorsed the petition, said Sunday that the government should allow motorcyclists a two-year grace period before starting to fine drivers without licenses. “The government should delay two years and allow people to get licenses,” he said, adding that he is concerned the new law will enable police officers to extort money from people.
But Tin Prasoer, Phnom Penh municipal police chief, said Sunday that the new law prevents police corruption. “Police officers can also be imprisoned,” he said. The new law states that police officers illegally misusing their power to confiscate licenses, number plates or vehicles can be jailed for up to one month and fined up to $50.
Sann Socheata, road safety manager for NGO Handicap International, said more education is necessary before officials can begin implementing the new law, but that with proper enforcement the law should help reduce traffic accidents. “Everyone should be involved with [implementing] the law, not only the government,” she said.