Travel ban has trouble-free start

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Officers supervise a checkpoint on National Road 6 in Bak Kheng commune of Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar district on Wednesday. Hong Menea

In contrast to the travel ban imposed around Khmer New Year in 2020, this year only a small number of people tried to beat the deadline and leave Phnom Penh for their hometown after the government banned unnecessary inter-provincial travel for 14-days, according to several provincial officials.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 6 ordered a temporary ban on inter-provincial travel and the closure of all tourism, leisure and entertainment sites and venues throughout the country from April 7 to April 20 in order to curb the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.

Kampong Speu provincial governor Vei Samnang told The Post on April 7 that his officials had observed only a small number of people trying to race against the ban before it took effect the following day both coming and going from the province.

“This morning there were only a few cases where people tried to go to another province. Maybe they hadn’t heard about the ban yet or maybe they thought they could slip through, but after we told them no they returned to their homes,” he said.

He said police set up four checkpoints in Samrong Tong district along National Road 4; Pich Nil area in Phnom Sruoch district’s Treng Trayoeng commune; Baset district and the fourth is near Odong district hall on National Road 5.

In Kandal province, Governor Kong Sophoan said that people in his province knew about the travel ban, so very few of them attempted to travel anywhere.

“Only around Neak Loeung Bridge on National Road 1 – a small number of people were stopped on their way in or out. Most people don’t want to travel anyways because they are afraid for their own health,” he said.

Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesman Kheang Phearum said that they had banned travelling in or out of province since March 4, so the recent announcement of the travel ban didn’t affect them much.

“People are not very aggressive about travelling in the provinces right now. The only people on the road are transporting goods or going to work – that and maybe ambulances,” Phearum said.

In Phnom Penh, municipal police spokesman San Sok Seiha said that the police immediately implemented the government’s instructions upon receiving them. The number of officers will be increased at all entrances to the city to ensure they remain under control.

The ban on inter-provincial travel is exempted for all transport of goods and for government officials fulfilling their daily duties.

Those travelling under an exemption during the ban must be prepared to show their employment ID cards, mission letters or other relevant documents proving the necessity of their travel to avoid being detained.

Ambulances from public and private hospitals and other emergency vehicles such as fire engines are also exempted.