Police cease impounding big bikes with loud exhaust pipes

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Big motorbikes impounded at Meanchey district police station. Police

Phnom Penh municipal police chief Sar Thet has ordered police forces in the capital’s 14 districts to temporarily halt the practice of stopping large motorcycles that he said are unusually noisy or loud. The order remains in effect until further notice.

This is a temporary suspension of the order given on January 8 by Minister of Interior Sar Kheng. He had ordered police forces and the Ministry of Public Works and Transport to intercept all motorcycles that were noisy and disturbing the peace.

The new directive came after municipal police recently intercepted 60 motorcycles alleged to have exhaust pipes that had been modified to make them noisier. According to the police, the sounds had disturbed people and were contrary to the maintenance of public order.

Thet said on January 12 that police will temporarily halt enforcement measures related to motorcycles with modified exhaust pipes, pending a new order from National Police chief Neth Savoeun.

He said this was being done to avoid inconveniencing people who had not committed any offence because some of the motorcycles that officers had been pulling over were not actually modified.

“Police forces in all the districts temporarily halt the interception of large motorcycles with loud exhaust pipes until further notice... because the exhaust pipes of some of these large motorcycles aren’t really modified, so those types aren’t illegal,” he said.

At a meeting on January 11, municipal governor Khuong Sreng urged all district authorities to maintain peace and public order for Phnom Penh residents.

Citing recent cases where police intercepted 60 motorcycles for causing noise disturbances with modified exhaust pipes, Sreng urged the municipal public works and environment departments to go directly to the locations where the motorcycles are intercepted to check technical standards and impacts on the environment before returning them to their owners.

But he pointed out that all motorcycles that have modified exhaust pipes have to be held for now pending instructions from the interior ministry.

On January 10, Battambang provincial police stopped drivers of eight motorcycles whose exhaust pipes were modified because they had been disturbing the peace in Battambang town.

Provincial traffic police chief Sat Kimsan said he had told the Traffic Police Bureau to educate the motorcycles’ owners and instruct them to stop such activities.

He said they required the owners to change out the modified exhaust pipes for standard ones and fined them before returning the motorcycles.

National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said on January 12 that there was no solid data available on the number of motorcycles with modified exhaust pipes nationwide and that the interior ministry needs to establish regulations for them in order to continue enforcement.

“Currently, several ministries are preparing instructive documents, but the top leadership have yet to decide whether to issue an order or instructions or something of that sort. When the orders are issued, we’ll know how to proceed. Hopefully by tomorrow or the day after tomorrow,” he said.

Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation director Kim Panha supported the initiative but requested that authorities check the motorcycles first because some loud exhaust pipes come straight from the factory without any modifications.

He also requested authorities give the public a period of at least a week or two before enforcing any new laws on this matter once they are announced so that people will have some advance warning to fix the exhaust pipes themselves.

According to a sub-decree on the amendment of sub-decree No 44 dated March 21, 2017, regarding the penalties for violations of the road traffic law, offenders shall be fined 100,000 riel ($25) if they make loud engine noises, emit excess smoke or violate any technical standards.