Kong Nov has resigned himself to abiding by the law. Tuesday he joined hundreds of people crowding into the municipal public works and transport department to buy a license plate for his motorbike.
“If I do not,” he said, “I will be fined every day because I am a motodop driver. It is difficult to make money, but I have to pay for the number plate this time.”
After years of turning a blind eye to thousands of motorbikes in Phnom Penh without license plates, the city is clamping down, requiring all motorbike owners to pay taxes and buy plates.
Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara set a deadline of June 1 to have all of the city’s tens of thousands of motorbikes registered.
That was clearly too ambitious. Tuesday the municipal transport office was still jammed with people like Kong Nov, trying to get a plate.
Officers have been issuing warning tickets, carrying a 500 riel fine, that direct the owner to have the bike registered.
“It is the law,” said Sek Salan, deputy director of the tax office for the municipal public works and transport department. “Some people have complained about the tax, but they have to respect the law.”
Since February, 400 people have paid the motorbike tax, which ranges from $40 to $192, depending on the type and condition of the bike.
Four thousand motorbike owners have yet to pay the tax, Sek Salan said. According to city officials, there are another 30,000 motorbike owners who have paid their taxes, but do not have license plates, which cost 35,000 riel, about $9. Many paid the tax when they bought their bikes.
Prum Phally, who rides a motorbike without a plate, said the city will have to wait a while longer to get his 35,000 riel.
“I have no intention of paying for the number plate. I don’t care about the fines at all because I usually escape them,” he said. “They fine motorcyclists without number plates for a while and then stop….There are thousands of motorbikes without number plates or paid taxes using the roads in Phnom Penh.”