Crossing Cambodia

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Chasing Cars, Cambodian Style, 20 February 2008

  • This week the big news is the start sign towards the re-habilitation of Cambodia's railways. A connection to Bangkok will be relaid; it's safe to assume that the Khmer Rouge were responsible for this disappearance. Furthermore all other railways will be restored with a timetable of 2 years, it is hoped. ADB Bank is investing heavily in the project as well as other donors chipping in. The $73 million project covers nearly 500 km of rail. Photo's are here, the report is here (though the original is from Xinhua).

    The Cambodian Daily (Feb 18) quotes Transport minister Sun Chanthol:
    'Can you imagine getting on the train in Singapore and ending up [by mistake?] in Sihanoukville?'
    Neither can Crossing Cambodia, but if so, it will be a tedious affair; most probably 5 days on board! Ansd as passenger services do not seem to be very important it might be a hard sit.

    Further reports by Cambodge Soir, here from KI Media site, also report that $500 million more is required to hitch the Cambodian railways to the Vietnamese. The caption photo is great: Hun Sen helping the public with counting. 'How many fingers? Five! That's right five hundred million!'

    A report copied in The Mirror, but originally from Khmer Machas Srok however points out that:
    'It was only seen that the general director of the Royal Railways [of Cambodia] quietly bought one more villa and changed to new cars'.
  • More co-incidence:
    'Editor-in-chief of Sakal Khmer Newspaper Khuon Playvy was hit from behind with [Toyota] Camry car as he was riding his motorcycle in Phnom Penh. The event occurred around 8:40pm near Pet Lorksang hospital. Playvy said that before the hitting attempt he was threatened on phone to recheck his news article on page eight. He was seriously cruised [probably mean injured] in hands, feet and face'.
    Today's (20 February 2008) Cambodia Daily elaborates on the story:
    'Municipal traffic police chief Tin Prasoer said Tuesday he was unaware of the case'.
    Southeast Asian Press Alliance stated it was an:
    'apparent attack'.
    If everybody who has been rear-ended in Cambodia is victim of press-related intimidation, press freedom in Cambodia must surely be down the drain. Or not?
  • Trouble in paradise. Paradise called Ponchentong, Phnom Penh's airport. In contradiction to the Cambodian conviction of kidnapping customers before they even arrive, at the airport it's a rather sedate affair; you want a taxi you pay $7 and you are escorted off the airport to a hotel of your liking. What? You live in a house, well that's going to cost you more!

    Anyway the airport operate some kind of licensing fee which limits the number of taxi's which can pick-up customers in exchange for a $40 monthly fee. My regular cabbie says getting a taxi which has such a license requires putting up another $5,000 just for the privilege, so quite rightly they try to earn as much as possible by persuing commissions As if they have not enough headaches, the government is now adding another. Apparently tuk-tuk's have been now licensed to do the same, but naturally cheaper. Unfair competition! Despite the governor of Phnom Penh openly championing the cause (tuk-tuks), his deputy in today's Cambodian Daily says:
    'Our stance is not so clear yet'.
  • It's nearly a year since the traffic law was adopted and the
    'Ministry of Public Works and Transport has now ordered all state, police and army license plates on private vehicles to be replaced with civilian plates by March 1'.
    In the Cambodian Daily, on the eigtheenth, so it must be true. As roughly 1 in 10 cars drives without plates at all and the aforementioned plates give certain privileges (the 'untouchables': you crash me, you pay!), license plate enforcement might become spectacular as of March 1!

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