National Assembly Passes Roads Law With Slim Majority

A new roads law was passed unanimously by the 64 CPP lawmakers who sat for the third and final day of the National Assembly’s second plenary session Thursday.

With the absence of 55 CNRP lawmakers-elect, who are boycotting parliament over July’s disputed election, the ruling party lawmakers were able to move ahead in passing legislation with more than the 62 votes required to approve new laws in the 123-seat assembly.

During the second day of debate over the roads law, CPP lawmaker Chheang Vun once again took on the role of inquisitor in lieu of an actual opposition.

On Wednesday, Mr. Vun grilled CPP Transport Minister Tram Iv Tek over widespread collusion between government inspectors and companies building roads, which is preventing proper enforcement of existing road construction regulations.

On Thursday, Mr. Vun said that if the government failed to enforce punitive measures outlined in the new roads law, it would “spoil our reputation.”

“If we don’t enforce it, other people will accuse us all the time to spoil our reputation linked to impunity,” he said.

Mr. Vun also chided Mr. Iv Tek for the poor living conditions along National Road 6A due to ongoing construction. The road has remained unpaved for months, with nearby homes and businesses constantly obscured by clouds of dust.

“When they are constructing National Road 6A, I never see water being poured on the dusty road, impacting people’s health along the road,” Mr. Vun said.

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An also weighed in on the roads law during the session, asking Mr. Iv Tek why the government has been ineffective at controlling the weight of loads being transported on the country’s roads.

“The question is why can’t we stop this problem? Because we have the local authorities, national police and weight measures to control, so why can the cars still transport overloaded goods?”

Article 60 of the roads law says that any load found to be more than 20 percent over weight limits may result in the impounding of the vehicle for up to one year, a fine of up to 300,000 riel, or $75, per ton, and a two-year suspension of the driver’s license.

Articles 48 and 77 of the roads law impose severe punishment on anyone found to be responsible for the unauthorized construction of roads or destruction of existing public roadways.

“A person who conducts public works without the permission of authorities…or causes damage to the state of the road, middle of the road, edge of the road or the remaining area on the sidewalk will be required to restore [the road] to its normal state and will be sentenced to between two to five years in prison and fined from four million riel to 10 million riel [$1,000 to $2,500],” Article 77 states.

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