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.