Crossing Cambodia

Monday, September 03, 2007

A pinch and a punch, it's the first of the month!

Last Saturday was probably the most exciting day Crossing Cambodia has anticipated since arriving in the country two years ago! The new traffic law will be brought into action! Visions of cautious and polite traffic users, police patrolling and informing the odd person, who still does not know that:
'you need a license, you need a helmet and it is really daft to drive on the wrong side of the road'.
At least take a look at a previous Crossing Cambodia posting on an article in the much-loved, but accordingly underrated Cambodia Weekly. The new traffic law apparently contains, 12 chapters, 95 articles!

But then the first of September. What a deception! Everything is the same as it was before! Can't Phnom Penh-ers and the rest of Cambodia rely on laws passed and announced being brought into action?

Just as recent as 22 August 2007, KI Media cites, Tin Prasoeur, director of the office of land traffic police said that,
'soon, the police will start issuing fines to motorcycle drivers who do not have a driver license'. Tin Prasoeur said that motorcycle drivers who do not have a driver license will be completely against this law'.
Another citation, this time Nhem Saran, the director of the department of public works at the Phnom Penh municipality, 22 June 2007, again KI Media citing
'The new law will come into effect in September and fines will be issued at time, however, Nhem Saran said that there was a request made to delay the issuing of fines so that people can be properly educated first. The new traffic law requires that motorcycle drivers have a driving license, whereas this was not the case before'.
Very clear! At least for Cambodia, where things tend to lack certain clarity. Come September order will be restored.

Apparently not! Saturday, the first I estimated that the of the 200 passing motorcyclists, only 39 had helmets; on Friday those percentages were better. Worse, even two police motorcyclists were not wearing helmets. A complete farce if you ask me. Traffic law? A lot of hot exhaust fumes!

The aforementioned Khmer News article ('the new ...action!) from Friday (31 August, 2007), mentions that, in the past 6 months 1,000 new licenses for motorcyclists had been provided. Is that up? An article a few weeks back Crossing Cambodia thinks mentioned that only 4% of all traffic users in Cambodia have a license! So 1,000 is a sorry state of affairs.

What will happen now? Crossing Cambodia had already thought that with such an extensive law, the law enforcers will go cherry picking. Let's start with the helmets and the licences. Or worse, the police would start cherry picking and after an initial hausse, forget about the law altogether and just react on certain articles, when the budgetary constraints of the men in blue comes to fore.

Other expectations? Mr. A. Nonymous on
KI Media arguably out of context on August the thirteenth, 2007:
'No one obeys the law started from top to bottom. If the government can't do the simple job of traffic rule, how can they govern the country? Police is just a scapegoat wearing a good uniform to show off, but don't do their job. No police training and driver education training in Cambodia. Whoever owns a piece of motorbike or car, they can start to drive without taking the test. Whoever can squeeze thru the heavy traffic can get thru even driving the wrong way. It's called a jungle law'.
Great fun all. But on a more serious note there is a new site up (since July?) and running called Road Safety Cambodia. It's basically a cooperation between Handicap International and various Cambodian institutes.
'The website aims to provide you all road safety information in Cambodia and links to other sites that you might find useful'.
Despite the impressive looking website, it's practically empty, i.e.not very useful. It does present monthly statistics on accidents, but no info on the new traffic law; probably the less you and I know, the better.

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