At the request of the National Police, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport will issue temporary number plates and driving licenses to operators of modified vehicles that serve the agriculture sector so it becomes easier to regulate them and assist farmers in their work.
Minister Sun Chanthol confirmed on Wednesday that he accepted the request made by National Police chief Neth Savoeun.
Chanthol said he would consider amending the Road Traffic Law or issue a sub-decree to implement the measure.
“On the other hand, His Excellency [Neth Savoeun] mentioned the closure of vehicle modification facilities. I agree with this. I mentioned this on several occasions, yet over 300 facilities have still not received legal authorisation.
“The facilities are open. We cannot close them completely. So, I agree with him to close substandard vehicle modification facilities.”
Speaking at a review meeting of road traffic safety at the Ministry of Interior on Wednesday, Savoeun said traffic accidents were caused partly by poorly modified vehicles.
He received a report this week saying that over 5,000 modified vehicles were being used in five provinces.
These vehicles are being used to transport unmilled rice, milled rice, materials and agricultural produce. He said vehicles modified to a low standard pose a high risk of traffic accidents.
In Vietnam, Savoeun said, modified vehicles were banned in 2008 and this led to a decrease in traffic accidents.
Thailand’s government promulgated a law permitting modified vehicles to be used for the agricultural sector and officials issued temporary number plates to Thais at a low price.
Savoeun said the Thai government understood farmers and did not require owners of modified vehicles to pay road taxes and other taxes.
“I mentioned all of these points earlier with a link to citizens’ livelihoods. Now all modified vehicles transport unmilled rice, milled rice and crops. This is necessary.
“Do we allow them to use the vehicles? Do we stop them or regulate the vehicles and issue number plates? This is a matter to be mulled over,” he said.
Savoeun requested Chanthol to examine all possibilities of regulating modified vehicles in provinces by banning unauthorised vehicles.
He urged the minister to analyse the numbers of vehicles, their technical standards and the operators. The ministry, Savoeun said, should deliver temporary number plates and set a timeframe for using the vehicles.
Savoeun said technicians should also find locations where the vehicles can be inspected and it can be determined whether they are permitted to travel on national roads or only in villages, districts and provinces.
The transport ministry’s National Road Safety Committee spokesman Chhuon Von said there are 340 vehicle modification garages in Cambodia.
Of the number, 327 were legally authorised and the remaining 13 were closed for being illegal. He said he doesn’t know how many modified vehicles exist in the country.
Hong Vannak, a researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, encouraged the modification of vehicles to serve the agricultural sector. But he requested that technical standards be considered, and relevant institutions be required to properly inspect them.
“Overall, I request that we be allowed to have modified vehicles to promote small businesses and citizens’ living standards. But I ask that [the ministry] monitor and inspect the type of modifications to conform to the vehicle’s technical standards.”
Institute for Road Safety director Kong Ratanak said Cambodia should study the situation carefully. He said technical faults in vehicles accounted for two per cent of traffic accidents in the Kingdom.
“As a long-term goal, we should not use them anymore. But as an immediate solution, we have to set technical and safety standards for existing modified vehicles. They are required to be registered to be regulated as mentioned by Savoeun,” he said.
He urged the government to give people time to alter their vehicles to be in line with the technical standards.