Crossing Cambodia

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Chasing Cars Cambodian Style, 24 January 2008

Updates on last weeks Chasing Cars.
  • 'Crackdown Creates License Plate Demand'.
    A lesson to us all: if the police start enforcing anything, it automatically leads to a reaction. Despite it being illegal to drive around (either with motorbike and / or car) without license plates, motorbikes are now being checked on, not cars. Two hundred motorcycles had been confiscated leading to
    'more than 1,300 motorcycle owners applying for plates'.
    Phnom Penh's Municipal Police Chief:
    'Our activities are to strengthen traffic laws and prevent criminal acts'.
    Oddly enough it seems the police are just an act of the criminal play: to get confiscated motorcycles back from the police requires a $20 bribe, the Cambodian Daily (January 17, 2007) alleges. Police of course deny this. And the nation's Traffic Safety NGO, Handicap International? A spokesperson prefers
    'if police focused their efforts on cracking down on individuals without driving licenses rather than those without plates. ... If they [offenders] apply for license plate, it doesn't mean that they can drive well. License plates are not really applicable to road safety'.
    Oddly enough, most would say the same of drivers licenses! How about applying the compulsory helmet rule? Or picking up dangerous drivers. Or ....
New news:
  • Dancing roads? Wrong, but if you drive some of the nation's roads (in this case Poipet - Siem Reap) you'll be the one doing the dancing:
    'It's named the Dancing Road for the way that people jitterbug around their cars while hurtling at top speed over potholes large enough to hide an entire cow [or a car is Crossing Cambodia's experience]. ... It takes roughly six hours to negotiate 150 kilometers, from the border to the next biggest city, Siem Reap. But the potholes, craters, dirt moguls and ATV-style jumps (really, our bus got at least two feet of air over some of these) are hardly the biggest obstacle. Every kilometer or two, the road just ends. ...
    It's part terrifying, part incredibly fun'.
    Admittedly these types of 'road' may well be the highlight of your stay. Be aware though, progress is just around the corner and in a few years ....
  • Khmer 440 forum again: areshole[?] khmer drivers and respondents slagging off the forum thread author. Author laments:
    'Why not put stop signs on the minor roads and at least attempt to slow the traffic?'
    One reaction:
    'Until there is any proper law enforcement here, it will always be the same as there is no incentive to make people change their habits'.
    Thread peters out after this:
    'I vote to use Mark [the author] as the speed hump, now that will slow-em down.
    Or maybe he should take his riotous self out to do the policing himself, HE HAS HIGH OPINIONS OF HIMSELF ABOUT MOST THINGS, block the road off with your tico-dinky [Tico being a Daihatsu Tico] mate, show em whose boss for christ sake and stop the sob stories.
    Welcome to the world of Cambodian forums for foreigners!
  • Investment in infrastructure: a bridge over the Tonle Sap might be built; 40 million dollars for road maintenance. All financially well off well-wishers, thank you!
  • Today's Cambodian Daily (January 24) in it's business section has a number of transportation relevant articles. The first of these reports on the impending changes to the nation's railways or better said the hopes and aspirations. Contracts have been signed to rebuild all existing lines in Cambodia. That's 600 km. To be completed in 2010, including a connection to Thailand via Poipet. Speeds would increase from 30 to 50 km/hr. Australian freight company Toll Holdings is currently negotiating a 30-yr concession agreement to
    'provide and operate new engines and rail cars on the improved rail lines'.
    They do need the improvement. An ADB consultant adds:
    'There's a derailment almost every day. The infrastructure is in really dangerous shape'.
    A proposed line to Vietnam remains in the pipeline.
  • Furthermore in the Cambodian Daily of 24 January 2008: on the riverfront the police are enforcing a rule to keep pavements free from obstacles, mostly haphazardly parked motorcycles and restaurant tables. But as this is Cambodia there are some problems with the enforcement:
    'One restaurant manager complained that a well-known Khmer eatery on the quay allows their customers' SUVs to block all but a half meter of the sidewalk.'
    Phnom Penh municipal police chief replied:
    'Land Cruisers may just park for a short time, not forever.'
    Well, that's a relief.
    'One street vendor, who sells skewered meat on the west side of Sisowath Quay, said police confiscated her food cart for a week [!] and demanded $20 for its return. Eventually she paid $5 and was told that next time police would take it for good, she said.'
    This enforcement was of course all according to last years traffic law which naturally makes no distinction between the rich and poor.
  • And then in the non-business news of the Cambodian Daily of Jan. 24: a report on all the youngsters taking over the job of traffic police. The article was a bit unclear, are more (traffic controlling youngsters) on the way, different ones coming in? Apparently there are students who work for the Red Cross which has vowed to continue the programme for
    'as long as the funds last'.
    They can't be so long then! Then there are scouts who are also students (getting paid twice?), who apparently stopped back in October (they had to go to school) but are going to be on the streets some time soon. Effectiveness of all these traffic wardens? According to a traffic police officer:
    'People seem to obey traffic lights more when the young volunteers [paid] are at the street corners.'
    Wonder what would happen if the traffic police did the same rather than dozing off under a tree? A girl finally scout adds:
    'They [the traffic offenders] said that I was too young to advise them'.
  • Finally for those pedestrian readers, please look out! Your sandals may just well contain a picture of Angkor Wat if you bought them in Vietnam. A mind-boggling story ...
Related Posts with Thumbnails