Sihanoukville municipality joined Siem Reap province to become the second area in Cambodia to ban foreigners who do not hold international or local drivers’ licenses from driving motorbikes, transport officials said Monday.
“We want safety for the foreign visitors and for the moto taxi drivers to have jobs,” said So Chunghuor, director of Sihanoukville’s Public Works and Transport Department.
“Some expatriates do not know the streets and have never driven before so they get in accidents… some even drive the motorbikes into the jungle,” he said.
So Chunghuor said that notice of the ban had been broadcast in Sihanoukville throughout December and that the announcement also urged residents to apply for driving licenses.
Unlicensed foreigners have been banned from driving in Siem Reap since March 2003—a move that has been hailed by traffic authorities.
“The ban has been successful,” said Siem Reap traffic police Chief Thong Sokhum. He said foreigners living and working in Cambodia, and who hold driving licenses from their own countries, can apply for a Cambodian driver’s license from the Department of Public Works and Transport.
Thong Sokhum said the ban helped secure the safety of foreigners and provided extra work for motorbike taxi drivers, adding that there are no penalties for foreigners caught driving in Siem Reap without licenses.
Transport officials in Phnom Penh said there are no immediate plans to apply the ban in the capital.
“The municipality is not yet concerned about this matter. But we have banned tourists from renting unregistered motorbikes,” said Peng Sokun, deputy director of Phnom Penh’s Public Works and Transport Department. “But according to the law, they can’t drive without a license.”
Foreigners and Cambodians alike can take driving examinations, or apply for international driving licenses if they are already licensed in their countries at the Municipal Public Works and Transport Department, Secretary-General of the Ministry’s Transport Department Chhin Kong Hean said Monday.