Three owners of sand dredging companies were among 11 people arrested Thursday by military police—working in tandem with the Ministry of Mines and Energy—for operating without a proper license, according to a spokesman for the ministry.
The arrests came a day after the Mines and Energy Ministry held a closed-door meeting with about 20 dredging companies at Phnom Penh’s Sunway Hotel on Wednesday to warn them that they would face legal action if they did not get a license with the ministry.
Dith Tina, a spokesman and secretary of state at the ministry, said military police moved in on three separate illegal dredging operations: one near Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich island, one in Chbar Ampov district, and one in Kandal province’s Lvea Em district.
“On 2nd, April, there were three cases of arrest,” Mr. Tina said in an email, adding that those arrested included three business owners and eight workers.
“We have sent all the cases to Phnom Penh Municipal Court,” he said.
Speaking by telephone Thursday evening, Ung Dipola, a deputy director at the ministry, said the companies were unlicensed, and therefore did not have names. He said he did not know the names of the arrested individuals either.
Last month, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that dredging in the country’s rivers, which has previously been loosely regulated and blamed for collapsing riverbanks, would be brought under control by giving sole authority for licensing to the Mines and Energy Ministry.
© 2015, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.