Motorists Dodging Bribes From City Police

In addition to the whistles, batons and blockades being used by traffic police to ensure the Asean Summit delegates’ motorcades travel smoothly, city motorists are accusing the policemen of using another method to keep drivers off the city’s major boulevards: Bribery.

“I laughed when police asked me to pay to drive on a street,” said Sok Sopheng, a motorcycle-taxi driver who works at Phsar Daum Kor.

Sok Sopheng said he was stopped and told to pay 5,000 riel (about $1.28) to drive along Mao Tse-tung Boulevard on Sunday. “When I asked the police why I had to pay, they said, ‘You know! We need to protect the delegations, without other people driving on the streets.’

“Police are using this summit as an opportunity to make money from motorists,” Sok Sopheng said.

Rath Chariya, a housewife who lives near Mao Tse-tung Boule­vard, said she walked to the market on Monday instead of driving her motorcycle as usual. “I didn’t dare drive my motorcycle, be­cause I knew I would lose money to the police,” she said.

“It’s not fair,” Rath Chariya said. “When the delegations pass by, police trap motorists at the side of the streets and make them pay. And if someone on a motorcycle tries to drive along the street, the police try to catch them,” she said.

Traffic police stationed on Mao Tse-tung Boulevard Monday denied the soliciting bribes accusations, saying they had never taken money from drivers.

“I only keep motorcycles and cars out of the middle of the road when the delegations drive by,” said traffic policeman Srun Sophy, while leaning up against a set of traffic lights at one of the city’s major intersections.

But another traffic police officer, who declined to give his name, was more outspoken about the practice of bribery.

“Taking money from motorists isn’t unusual,” the police officer said.

“When motorists make mistakes, they must be punished by being made to pay money,” he said. “It’s not our fault—they are the ones that break the rules.”

 

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