Phnom Penh Authorities Ban Transport of Fuel During Day

Phnom Penh municipal authorities on Wednesday banned petroleum tankers from driving within the confines of the city during the daytime in an effort to diminish the explosion risk of trucks operating during peak work hours.

The explosion of a Sokimex truck in the middle of a busy neighborhood in September brought the threat posed by the trucks into sharp relief as homes burned and a tower of dark smoke rose above the city. In its announcement, the mu­nicipality declared the city’s roads closed to petroleum tankers be­tween 5 am and 10 pm.

“Due to the increasing number of vehicles in Phnom Penh and prior incidences of fire caused by fuel tanker explosions, Phnom Penh municipality would like to inform state and private institutions that transport fuel and gas with tankers [of the new rule],” read the announcement.

According to the announcement, the ban went into effect on Wed­nesday, though some tankers were seen inside the city yesterday.

“This order will help ease the traffic that the trucks sometimes create,” said deputy governor Pa So­cheat­vong yesterday. “If the people do not respect this order, we will confiscate their vehicle and hold them until they write us a letter promising not to break the rule again instead of asking them for money.”

Mr Socheatvong said that he understood the ban to include all trucks above a certain size, which he could not recall, though the an­nouncement only mentioned petroleum tankers.

Sok Kong, chairman of the fuel company Sokimex, welcomed the announcement yesterday and said he would not hesitate to change his drivers’ schedules.

“This is good, and we will implement this immediately,” said Mr Kong.

In the wake of September’s So­kimex tanker explosion, Interior Ministry officials admitted that the government had no formal policy of mandating that fuel be delivered within certain windows of time. The officials said they had asked companies to only use tankers during quiet times, but the companies showed little sign of responding to that request.

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