Crossing Cambodia

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Market driven ...

Lao P.D.R. has come with a novel strategy to rein in, amongst others, their traffic police. Not a quasi politician who knows-it-all, but the general public themselves are allowed to determine the way in which the traffic police conduct their work. The Vientiane Times reports on:
'The Ministry of Public Security has installed more boxes in central Vientiane in which members of the public can deposit letters of complaint concerning inappropriate activities by the police'.
Yeah, Crossing Cambodia hears you, what good will that do? Apparently, as the article clarifies, there are already complaint boxes in operation. This had lead to:

'many local residents voiced their concerns about traffic police who acted inappropriately while questioning drivers who did not have vehicle licences or driving licences in their possession.

"People complained that police were rude and said they should be more courteous when asking drivers to produce documents", Lieutenant Colonel Khamphasith said.

He said that after many complaints about the same problem, the inspection department had ordered immediate investigations into the issue. He added that the ministry had urged traffic police to be polite in their dealings with the public and to remain patient in times of difficulty, because the police are the servants of the public, not their bosses'.
Well, if rudeness is the main problem of the traffic police, possibly the complainers could come to Cambodia to sort out the Cambodian traffic police. Here, the traffic police are regarded as having a poor profile, as they persistently ask for 'donations' or 'acts of generosity'! This being perceived as lecherous behaviour.
Personally, Crossing Cambodia has had no issue with traffic police; it seems that over-exaggeration forms a major part of the reports. If at all, one could say that the Cambodian traffic police are a lethargic lot. They are there, under a shady corner, quietly waiting for the unsuspecting traffic participant to stop right under their noses. As the traffic rules are never clear, nor is the general public informed on what newest political decree has been stated (aimed at beautifying the city) it's very easy to request this unsuspecting person for a donation. Not?So why this difference between comparable neighbours? Cultural possibly. The above article concludes with:
'The Ministry of Finance and other ministries have also shown an interest in making similar boxes where the public can lodge grievances'.
Contrast this to the following. A few weeks ago an independent research concluded that 29% of the Cambodia beer market had been imported illegally: no statistics, no import duties. Local producers of course, who have as recent as last week, been requested to pay more taxes, are of course not happy. Most imports are now on the market cheaper than local produce. In the past this has lead to international companies such as Nestle to discontinue local production. So, one would expect the government to look into this seriously: they are losing on taxes, and the illegal imports are threatening local jobs.
Not so,
Xinhua reports:
' "The study is a waste of money. It is an unacceptable report," said Hun Sen [Cambodian PM]
It [the report] blamed the boom of contraband beer on weak government and law enforcement'.
Conclusion: Cambodia is in the denial phase. When will Cambodia start embracing their faults and improving herself?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Politicians have the solution...

Increasingly, Crossing Cambodia is coming to rely on English translations posted on KI Media of Khmer articles posted on This time, the Phnom Penh city governor has advised the traffic police to stop pesting traffic participants. For those of you who have followed this blog over the past year, you may be amazed, as Crossing Cambodia has observed extremely relaxed traffic police combined with regular decrees from city hall, requesting the police to pull over everybody ignoring their most recent decree; even if they are irrelevant or out of touch with reality.
Now, if the governor could just advice the traffic police to pursue those not adhering to current rules ...
'the governor discussed about the traffic police, saying that they should stop creating dissatisfactions among the people stemming from the arrest of motorbikes along the city roads'.
According to the article he finished he speech with these final words:
'He [the governor] said that “we are the ruling party, we must think about the defense of safety and security, we must prevent thefts and robberies, and protect well public order at the local level.”'

Saturday, May 26, 2007

National Highway 5-6 Siem Reap - Poipet

National Highway no. 6 from Siem Reap to Sisophon and then from Sisophon on National Highway no. 5 to Poipet, the overland borderpoint to Bangkok, has the reputation to be the worst national highway of Cambodia, an accolade which it has retained since time immortal. A recent article from the UPI's food(?) correspondent, Julia Watson, confirms this:
'The road from Siem Reap in Cambodia to the Poipet border post in Thailand is 93 miles long. The journey takes, on a good weather day, around 6 hours by bus.

To call it a road is to grant it a compliment it isn't due.
Despite massive overseas funding raised to develop an acceptable highway to the border crossing, hard standing is sporadic. The surface is no more than compacted red dirt that after any rainstorm turns quickly into a rutted field. Traffic slaloms from side to side to avoid the potholes. But punctures and ruptured crankshafts are common'.

This seems to contradict Cambodia's own website on this stretch of road, over on Tales of Asia. According to this site the road condition is 'Overall okay' as of April 30, 2007. This despite referring to the Poipet to Sisophon section of 50 kilometers:
'This section is surfaced and varies from okay to quite wretched. A lot of potholes (big enough to park a truck in) were patched up late last year, but the road, particularly near Poipet remains a bone-jarring ride'.
In all they reckon a bus could do the stretch of 155 km in 5-7 hours. This seems to be substantiated by reports from travelers on their web site, though with the recent rains, who knows what could happen?
What they do comment on is numerous scans mostly directed to the unfortunate tourists who can not cough up the cash to fly on the monopoly airline Bangkok Airlines, which seems to repel all competion. Probably the road department are in on the act as well ...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Informing the public...

Part of the new campaign to inform traffic users? Yes, it's a difficult crossroad ( Gaulle with Monireth with Czechoslovakia street with Oknha Tep Phan street, but why put a smallish hand-painted sign?

First (and final?) edition of traffic law

Handicap International, the only organisation concerned with traffic safety, have assisted the Cambodian government with printing and publishing what is said to be the first edition of the new traffic law. This might be not totally true, obviously laws are not subject to 'editions', but change due to legal amendments, but who knows, possibly editions are what is customary in Cambodia law circles.

Anyway. Handicap also need some additional funding to
'print several tens of thousands of copies'.
Thes will be sent to commune authorities. At this rate before the general public get hold of them might take a few years!

One of the comments on this article on the KI Media site asked why not put it as a PDF file on the internet? Yes, why not?

Next up! Overloaded vehicles at the mercy of traffic police

'Police to fine overload vehicles'. That's the lead from an article originally published on the site. A KI Media translation with a first comment can be found here. The article:
General Touch Naruth, the Phnom Penh city police chief, issued an order to traffic police who patrol along the many locations in the city streets to stop and issue a fine citation to commercial vehicles which are overloading its top. The overloading causes disorder and also creates traffic accident. Touch Naruth told the Kampuchea Thmei newspaper on Tuesday, that his police force has stopped cars transporting over its limit on a daily basis, and that each car was previously fined 20,000 riels (~$5) if the car owner does not respect the (traffic) directive. Touch Naruth said that commercial cars transporting numerous items on its roof will be stopped, and they will no longer be tolerated from now on. The Phnom Penh city police commissioner said that the first infraction will be fined 20,000 riels, and if the same car is stopped for a second time, the car and the owner will be taken to the police station where they will be more severely fined, and the car business license will be revoked for ever.
At least this time the intentions seem to be right. Overloading leads to heightened safety risk, due to a different point of balance of the vehicle and the fact that the vehicle becomes more difficult to steer. Additionally, overloaded vehicles increase the wear and tear of the (few) national highways. And there's always the chance that you fall off the roof!

But safety doesn't seem to be the ultimate intent of this new municipal 'order'. The ongoing drive to 'order' or beautify the (inner) city seems to be the driving force. Ultimately it means clearing the city of the poor, with little or no consideration to their rights.

What's more, the order is again once unclear. This leads to the police using more of their rights. What is overloaded? Why only 'commercial' vehicles? Why focus only on the roof? How is there to be a system whereby previous offenders can be traced? Traffic police will determine the offense, not the law?

Probably the issue will disappear within a month as have all other (local) decrees / orders. In the meantime the less rich will be forced to travel to the outskirts of the city, after which they can get on their overloaded vehicles! Nothing really happens ...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The future?

India as a guiding light? Well, there is the possibility, though in many ways Cambodia is ahead of the South Asian billion persons nation. But in India they have a 'four-lane toll motorway' according to an article from the NZ Herald. Titled 'Driven to distraction' it seeks to commend India as a five star tourist destination for thrill seekers. Some excerpts:
'So we're roaring along this busy four-lane toll motorway at 90kph when suddenly there's a cart drawn by a tattooed camel heading towards us going the wrong way down the fast lane.'
Well, roaring at ninety?
'But the interest goes well beyond vehicles and animals blithely disregarding which side of the motorway they're on. That's just the start. '
Terrible, on the wrong side of the road!
'Drivers also ignore lane markings - one stretch of motorway bowed to reality by having none - preferring to straddle the centre line so they can swerve from side to side as required.'
Seems logical
'... at roadworks they don't just have a man with a red flag to warn drivers to slow down but also a big guy in a turban armed with a rifle to back him up. Maybe that's an idea our own [NZ] Land Transport Safety Authority could pick up.'
Well, that's an innovation over Cambodian, here they (road workers) just disregard traffic and vice versa unfortunately.
'Part of the reason there are so few accidents is the way drivers use their horns to send carefully calibrated signals about their intentions. A gentle toot means "I'm here". A slightly louder one asks, "Please pull over so I can come through." A forceful blast declares, "Hey, you're not following the rules, pull over now." It seems to work well. Most trucks carry signs on the back saying, "horn please" and "blow horn".'
Does the same apply to Cambodia? Small repeated honking "I'm approaching the crossroad and have no intent of stopping for whatever". A long, loud impatient horn: "I'm driving an expensive and big car. I was personally instrumental (=accepted the bribes) in providing you poor and Camry driving and motorcycling masses with this here stretch of road, so if you want to avoid being arrested after my car gets a couple of scratches and you are handicapped for the rest of your life (and pay for those scratches) you better move over". Sort of.

What's more mind boggling is that anyone would travel to India for this sort of experience when Cambodia is more accessible, speeds are bigger and Cambodia is just starting to cater to 'real' tourists. Cambodia can also provide a couple of temples to look into. The future for Cambodia is bright.

The future?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Next up: motorcycle repair shops and wash places.

From KI Media, a translated article on the ongoing suppression of all activities irrelevant to the rich, high and mighty:
The Phnom Penh municipality plans to close motorcycle repair shops and motorcycle washing shops set up along roadsides in Phnom Penh, because these shops destroy public order, cause traffic jam, plug sewers, and create a lot of noise to the neighborhood. The Koh Santepheap newspaper reported that the plan to close all these activities was concocted during a meeting at the Phnom Penh city hall, presided by Chreang Sophan, the deputy governor of the city of Phnom Penh. During the meeting, the roadside shop owners were accused of destroying public order as described above. An official from the city hall indicated that currently, in the city of Phnom Penh, there are thousands of such motorcycle repair and washing shops, and that most of these shops are set up along roadsides causing daily traffic jams. These shops do not have the city authorization to operate. The city will set up a committee to review and teach the shop owners, if they still persist in their activities after one or two summons, the shop will be closed down.
Have the rulers of the new Khmer Republic ever considered asking the population what they want? Would they support a decree to get motorcycle repair shops to clear off (where to?). Do the haphazardly parked SUV's and Landcruisers outside Lucky's supermarket on Sihanouk Boulevard not result equally in traffic jams? What about the racket produced by passing senior officials complete with sirens? And blocking all transport on major streets of Phnom Penh when the PM needs to use his car for a change?

One country, one people, one set of laws, two ways of interpretation. Those above the law and those oppressed by the law.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Rainy season here to stay

The above picture blatantly ripped but with reference. The article on KI Media (which ripped, the original photo apparently from Koh Santepheap. Photo caption: Flooding in Siem Reap after torrential rain on 14 May


Today (May 17,2007) the Nation's (Thailand's no.2 English newspaper) foreign correspondent has nothing better to do than report from New York on hearsay from London and how to extrapolate this to Bangkok. Possibly the Nation might send him on a fact-finding mission to Singapore, which is way ahead of London on traffic control. Then again they are not so loud about it.
London's mayor gives Bangkok advice on easing its traffic congestion

"Get cars off the streets" is the strongest piece of advice leaders of some of the world's greenest capitals can give to their counterparts from cities plagued by pollution and congestion.

In no uncertain terms, they argue it is the most effective way to improve the quality of life and reduce carbon emissions.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone's "congestion pricing" has become a model success story that drew attention, whether awe or scepticism, from many mayors and city managers attending the second day of the "Large Cities Climate Summit" yesterday in New York.

Addressing the panel discussing "Beating the Congestion and Surviving Your Next Election" at the four-day summit of some 40 of the world's largest cities, Livingstone acknowledged the fears of many elected mayors that their political future could be jeopardized by drastic measures to tax drivers for taking their cars to trade and business centres.

"When I introduced the measure four years ago, my poll rating was bad, the media were hostile and gave disastrous predictions; it was all doom and gloom, no one would drive, retail shops and businesses in the controlled area would have to shut down," he recalled.

"Tony Blair wanted to appear as if he had nothing do with it. The government gave us money to expand the bus system but hoped nobody knew about it."

But he then listed how the measure improved flows of traffic in the city: the number of cars in the centre of London has been reduced by 38 per cent, a rate Livingstone said was twice more than he anticipated. Commercial vehicles increased, the number of cyclists increased 80 per cent, while bus riders increased from four to six million a day.

As a result, carbon emissions from the transport sector reduced 25 per cent.

Livingstone noted that his political courage to introduce the measure came from being pressured by London's business community. Congestion in the city cost ฃ2 billion (Bt140 billion) in business losses a year. London had lost its competitiveness and businesses threatened to relocate elsewhere, he said.

The mayor of London said he expanded the controlled areas by doubling them early this year and increased charges from ฃ5 to ฃ8 with similar hostility from the media, but opinion polls stated that his political approval went up.

"Politicians like to underestimate the intelligence of the general public - trust your people that they recognise the problem. In four years my poll has gone up 14 per cent and they don't want to vote for my rival because they fear my rival would remove congestion pricing."

Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin told Livingstone he was interested in his success story but had little clue how a gridlocked city like Thailand's capital with 5.5 millions cars on the street every day could begin the measure without a good public transit system.

"We only have 50km combined of Skytrain and subway. The buses are run by the central government. We want to introduce the charge but don't have a proper mass transit system. Do we need to have the system in place first or could we start now in the inner city?"

Livingstone's advice is to improve the bus system because subways take a long time to construct. He said in the case of London, the number of buses increased from 6,000 to 8,000 along with the introduction of new routes, and the private sector played a key role in helping with finance.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised Livingstone's scheme. If he has his way, drivers who want to enter inner Manhattan will have to pay US$8 (Bt267).

The Mayor of Copenhagen, Klaus Bondam, said he had wanted to introduce congestion charging for some time but the right-wing central government opposed the idea by not issuing legislation. "Copenhagen is much smaller than Bangkok with only 500,000 residents, but noise and air pollution from the traffic bothers our residents, so we want to discourage cars from getting into the city. We will continue to fight for what is right," he said.
Nantiya Tangwisutijit

Well, the Thai side fail to look at their own solution, elevated toll roads. And why would 'buses run by the central government' impede seeking a solution?

Could the Cambodia Daily afford to send a reporter overseas to see if there any talking heads with clear advice on how to decongest Phnom Penh? Or at at least avoid more congestion. On yer bike? Or should he/she take a moto?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Crazy Falangs

Naturally the number one past time of most expats in Cambodia or for anyplace in the world is slagging off the locals. Incompetent usually, or downright lacking in the upper chamber.
That said, the locals also shake their heads when encountering a foreigner from nearby. Take for instance the traffic: a foreigner seldomly cuts a corner and prefers to walk despite the sidewalks put there for use as an extended shop/restaurant/parking space or impromptu marketplace. Or all in the same go. Well, there you have it, even Crossing Cambodia is guilty of using persuasive arguments to frame the locals into the not 100% box!

Anyway, the true crazy are the Falang as you can clearly deduce from this news item delved up from Possibly filing this under the 'Security' section is not totally correct.
French Man Set his Car in Fire in Sihanoukville
Monday, May 14, 2007 - by seangly
Sihanoukville: Furious with his car that always broke down, a French man burnt it down in the daytime in Sihanoukville.The surprising event occurred at 3:00 pm on 13 of May 2007 at Phoum III village, Lek III commune, Sihanoukville’s Mitha Pheap district.
57-year-old French man Brandily Claude set his car which he has bought from Phnom Penh in the price of 4.500 $ ablaze because it always broke down, making him very angry everyday, said police.
Police and representative of French embassy official educated him stopping doing such an action.
So are the French desperatly in need of education French/Khmer style? Will it help?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Cambodia's Black Spot: in front of the Ministry of Inferior!

Thanks to Details are Sketchy for reminding this gem of a site: Daily updates on accidents and robberies! On Monday May 7 this:
Two Die at Black Spot near Ministry of Inferior
Phnom Penh: Two motor ran into each other and continued to crash a car parked along Norodom Blv, Tongle Basak commune, Phnom Penh’ Chamkamon district at 6: 10 pm on 5 of May 2007, two people died instantly at the scene and two other got serious injure.

The victims were unknown. After the accident, police went to the scene and took the two bodies to Wat Prah Put’s crematory.

According to the source from the scene the four victims drove Sonic black motor fro south to north and when arrived in front of the ministry of Inferior, they added speed in order to over take a car but they strongly crashed another car drove in different direction. The car went away and no one recognized it.

The scene is noticed that it is the black spot.
Well, Crossing Cambodia is clueless as to what happened, but the main point is that 'the black spot' has been noticed and that it is in front of the Ministry of Inferior! Now let's hope they can change the status of the Ministry (to Superior perhaps) and clean the black spot.

Ripping off Vietnam

One way of earning a decent living in Cambodia is by smuggling gasoline from Vietnam, where it's cheaper. Not allowed in Vietnam, openly traded in all Cambodia. Pity the Vietnamese regularly pick up smugglers. Thanx to KI Media:
Gasoline Smuggling in Kampot province and Kep city

While the price of gasoline in Cambodia is higher than that in neighboring countries, gas smuggling is on the rise in provinces bordering with neighboring countries.

In Kampot province and Kep City, gas smuggling is done by sea. Kep residents who have no jobs, and who are very poor, as well as other villagers from Trapeang Lapov district, Angkor Chey district, Dang Tung district, in Kampot provinces, are involved in the smuggling. A large majority of these people act as laborers transporting gasoline for large businessmen, and only a small number of them are independent smugglers.

41-year-old Korm Samin said that he is into the smuggling trade for the past one year because his fishing trade is getting continually worst. He complained that currently, the smuggling trade is also getting more difficult as well, the profit is low, and he also faces police arrest.

Korm Samin said: “In this (smuggling) trade, you fear that you will be caught (by the police) because when you get caught, you lose, and we wouldn’t have anything to eat at home for 2 or 3 days. It’s never sure, sometime you leave (from home) at 5:00 PM, and you get there (Vietnam) at 7:00 PM, then you return back at 9 to 10:00 PM to come back home. [The amount of smuggled gas] is not steady, sometime you smuggled in 100 containers, but at other times, you would bring in 70 to 80 containers only. Before, it was cheaper, when the price of gas was cheaper, the cost is a littler over 50,000 riels (~$12.50), and we get here over 60,000 riels (~$15.00)”

Gas smugglers operate by sea using small boats departing from Kep city, they head to the Vietnamese border, in Ha Tien province. After purchasing gas there, they have to head back home in the middle of the night, and they have to make it back before daybreak in order to avoid large waves.

20-year-old Khieu from Kep City is working for others to transport smuggled gas. He said that each trip earns him up to 20,000 riels (~$5.00) only. “They call us to be the boat skipper for the large smugglers. They are the ones who make a lot of profit, for me, I receive only a small amount, about 10 to 15,000 riels only (~$2.50 to $3.75). Sometimes, if we make the wrong run, and take a bad path, the Vietnamese could shoot us, some even died from this shooting.”

50-year-old Chak Kol is another transporter of smuggled gas for others. He said that some of those who transport smuggled gas have been arrested by the Vietnamese authority and thrown in jail for 4 or 5 days, before the Cambodian authority asked for their release back. “We don’t get much, but we have nothing else, so we just do it, we have to endure it, no matter how hard it is. When the Vietnamese [authority] catches us, they confiscate everything, the gas, the boat, and they throw us in jail. One time, some of the smugglers were arrested [by the Vietnamese], then our side [Cambodian authority] went there by boat, and asked for their release, it was then that [the Vietnamese] release them and they could come back home. It’s not like we can do whatever we want, we cannot just transport [the smuggled gas] day and night as we see fit, we can’t do that.”

According to the local people, the large gas traders, who have the backing from officials, are the ones who can smuggle in tens of thousands of liters of gas and bring them into Kampot province and Kep City, but for the small time smugglers, the most they can bring in per trip is about 100 liters only.

Kong Chea, the police chief of Kep City, claimed that his police force used to arrest the small smugglers there, but that the majority of them travel to Kampot province instead. “There are smugglers here, we always arrest them, and now they don’t come here anymore. My force lacks transportation means to patrol at sea. We cannot go to sea, if we want to go to sea, we must rent a boat. But, in Kep City, there is not much to worry about.”

Thach Khon, Kampot province governor, admitted about gas smuggling in his province. Each month, the authority confiscates about 20,000 liters of smuggled gas. He said that because of the vast extent of the sea shore, the authority has a hard time eliminating this problem.

Thach Khon said: “… we try hard to arrest them, a report just came in that almost 5,000 liters of smuggled gas were caught, and each month, we confiscate tens of thousands of liters of gas. But, our sea is large, and we lack equipment, this doesn’t mean that we don’t make arrest, we do make arrest, like today, I just signed in a report saying that more than 1,000 liters, almost 2,000 liters [of smuggled were confiscated].”

Even though the authority claims that it intensely goes after gas smuggling, smuggling still take place in Kampot province and Kep City.

A local official of the Adhoc human rights group said that the authority only arrest poor people who smuggled in 1 to 2 gas containers, but it never arrest large smuggled gas traders who have the backing of high-ranking officials.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Off track

As if the national railways haven't enough to contend with, now their employees have started dismantling the railways in earnest. That's if we are to believe yesterday's (May 7, 2007) Cambodia Daily and why wouldn't we?
'Takeo Provincial Court charged 28 men with stealing parts of the Phnompenh to Sihanoukville railway line to sell for scrap metal.
Three of the arrested men [seven were arrested, the others remain 'at large'] were Cambodian Royal Railways Staff.
that the men are suspected of prizing up metal railroad ties from between the rails to sell to scrap merchants. Officials have repaired the line, and the thefts pose no threats to trains,
said the Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville route is still being used to transport gasoline'.
Well, that's good news then. Theft happens, law is enforced, actively even. Officials ascertain that safety is adhered to and all those who might suggest otherwise now know, the line is even being used!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Cyclists needs ...

Apparently cyclists needs are 'neither cigarette smoke nor drugs'. This banner has been hanging near the Independence Monument for about a week. Part of a cycle race which mysteriously came through the city last Monday. Though we understand the essence of the message, could they not have included exhaust fumes? And what about professional cycling? No drugs, no celebrations. It's the thought that counts

Saturday, May 05, 2007

In the past Crossing Cambodia has repeatedly referred to Phnom Penh's Post Blotter, which gives an overview of police mentioned cases featured in Khmer language newspapers and translated to English.
One aspect of these cases are the senseless killing, so the culprit(s) can steal a motorcycle. The latest issue ( May 4-17, 2007) is no different.
On April 20:
'... was murdered while driving his motorbike. Police suspected robbery was the motivation because his [motor]bike had been stolen'.
April 21:
'.... Eyewitnesses said three robbers on a motorbike stopped Phy and shot him once in the neck with a homemade handgun, then stole his motorbike as he was driving home from work.'
He was not killed however, just wounded.
On April 23:
'Three gunmen escaped empty-handed on their motorbike after attempting to rob An Sotheara. ....'
How come empty-handed?
'...the robbers blocked Sotheara's path and knocked him in the mouth with the butt of a K-59 handgun, then shot him in the left eye as he shouted 'stop thief'. So Theara was sent to a clininc for medical treatment'.
Did he survive, the police blotter does not mention.
Furthermore not a robbery but some good work by the police, well let's call it apparent good work:
'Four suspected robbers were shot dead after preparing to commit a robbery. Police said the four exchanged gunfire and tried to escape on a motorbike after they were ordered to stop for inspection. Police confiscated ... and a plastic bag of poisonous hotdogs'.
What were they for and how did the police find out the hotdogs were poisinous...?
More good work by the police on April 24:
'... a policeman, was shot and wounded as he tried to stop a gunmen who had committed a robbery ... the gunmen shot Thong in the chest when Thong tried to stop the robbers from escaping on a stolen motorbike, which belonged to Thach Navy. Thong is now at Russian hospital'.
April 27:
'Ngin Pisth was robbed of his motorbike while driving his girlfriend on Monivong Bouleveard. Piseth told police two robbers aimed a handgun at him and knocked him on the head with the butt of the gun then escaped on his bike'.
This happened 10.30 in the evening on one of Phnom Penh's busiest streets!
And finally on April 30:
'The body of ... was found... An (the victim's husband) said his wife's jewelery, motorbike and $10,000 in cash were stolen'.
Even without the usual traffic safety issues, participating in traffic can be deadly!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Letter to the Editor: Phnom Penh Needs Through Traffic Planning

Yesterday's ( May 1, 2007) Cambodia Daily:
Phnom Penh Needs Through Traffic Planning

I just returned from a short trip to Ho Chi Minh City where I was struck by how few cars there were on the road considering the large population. This is in stark contrast to Phnom Penh, where there are fewer people but many cars, particularly four wheel drives.

In Ho Chi Minh City most people drive motorcycles and the traffic flow is not too bad. Phnom Penh, however is starting to feel like just another cluttered Asian city, at risk of losing its unique charm and character.

The increasing number of cars should ring alarm bells for city planners. Policies need to be developed to limit this problem before we face continual gridlock. Certain areas could be made car free, while there could be taxes charged on vehicles entering other areas.

Richard Llloyd, Phnom Penh
So, in comparison to Saigon, 'we' are worse off. Many would disagree.

Yes, why the high level of four wheel drives? If 'we' start charging taxes for entering certain areas, don't we just become another 'Asian' city?

And why are Asian cities cast as cluttered? Surely, Paris, Rome, Athens, London, New York, Mexico city, Lagos, Cairo are also cluttered, but not Asian (yet).

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