Vow Aims at Illegal Tolls

Banteay Meanchey provincial authorities on Monday signed a joint declaration to end illegal checkpoints and prevent police from illegally charging people for traveling on the province’s roads, pro­vincial Governor Thach Khorn said Tuesday.

Thach Khorn said the agreement was signed by police, military police, RCAF and civil administration officials. He said that under the ban, he had called on all provincial and district authorities “to ensure that no illegal checkpoints will appear in any corner of the province.” He added that his deputy, An Sum, was appointed to lead the pro­vince’s drive to control the checkpoint extortion rackets.

The ban followed Prime Min­ister Hun Sen’s warning on Thurs­day to remove provincial officials if illegal checkpoints remained in their provinces.

Thach Khorn said the problem got worse after the July elections, as police and customs officials lined their pockets with illegal tolls.

A day after Banteay Meanchey’s ban, however, taxi and delivery drivers in the province said traffic po­lice were illegally charging them about $1 per vehicle, as usual.

Porng Pov, a 23-year-old pickup truck driver, said he welcomed the crackdown. But, he said, police were still operating four checkpoints around the Banteay Mean­chey town of Sisophon and extorting money from drivers.

“I just paid 40 baht (about $1) to traffic po­lice for a yellow [unofficial, handwritten note to] pass,” he said on the way to Poipet.

Taxi driver Sok Sarun, 25, said he had paid at least $7 between five checkpoints along Route 5 between Phnom Penh and Bat­tambang province. “I am glad to hear that Prime Minister Hun Sen announced the crackdowns on illegal checkpoints. He made several orders, but his lower people did not follow well,” he said.

Banteay Meanchey’s first dep­uty police chief, Pov Sidorn, de­nied his officers were charging people after Monday’s order. “We ordered the police re­moved from the checkpoints since Mon­day. Nobody was there since,” he said.

An Sum agreed, saying district and provincial officials would be deployed to patrol the area and clear them of illegal checkpoints.


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