A team of customs officials was confronted by a group of angry truck drivers in Kandal province’s Takhmao City Tuesday after it stopped two trucks that had not paid import or road tax on their vehicles, one of the officials said.
National Road 2 was blocked for more than two hours after some 30 truckers responded to a call from their colleagues and surrounded the government team of about 15 people, said Moung Dara, chief of customs and excise at the Chrey Thom International Checkpoint on the border with Vietnam. He said the team finally allowed the two drivers to leave after telling them to pay the tax they owed by January 31.
“After we stopped the two trucks, the drivers called their colleagues to intervene and block the road,” Mr. Dara said. “These men claimed that they would call hundreds more to come here.”
According to the customs chief, the right-hand drive trucks, most of them transporting sand, rocks and dirt, used their vehicles to block the road and then surrounded the customs officials at a nearby service station. He said military police were deployed to the scene but stood by as the two sides shouted at each other.
Mr. Dara said that his team negotiated with the drivers—all of whom are required to pay a one-time road tax and import tax for bringing their vehicle into the country—and defused the situation by offering the January deadline, even though the drivers had been given warnings since August. He said the amount of tax owed varied by driver.
The drivers are also required to have their trucks modified so that the steering wheel is on the left.
“We did not fine them yet. We are just educating them so that they know the procedure,” Mr. Dara said.
The customs chief said the drivers agreed to pay the tax by the new deadline but asked that they not have to move their steering wheels, a request that would be passed on to the “upper level.”