Crossing Cambodia

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Chasing Cars with little to mention, 30 April, 2008

Hi, well not much to mention on the traffic front.
  • Khmer 440 are rehashing a forum posting, but without the nuances from the forum itself. The road to Bokor is sometimes open sometimes not, just ask around in Kampot.
  • A bit of news on roads in the north east of Cambodia. The road to Lao from Kratie has opened officially, all that was needed was a date close to the national elections. It has apparently been
    'refurbished, brand new'.
    Elsewhere on the web a forum entry to Tales of Asia gives thumbs up to the road to Banlung, Rattanakiri:
    'This year, the road from Phnom Penh to Banlung is an easier and quicker drive, with only about a 2 hour stretch of dirt road from Kratie to choke through'.
  • A couple of accidents.
    'A 24-year-old woman was run over and killed by Sokimex gasometer truck after a three-wheel-motorbike, on which she took, had crashed with the truck. ... Police said that the traffic accident occurred every day because people violate the traffic laws and the roads are not big enough'.
    Everybody violates the traffic law and the roads are big enough, there's just too much traffic acting chaotically.
    Another accident:
    'An eyewitness said that the lorry and the motorcycle were in the same direction. Arriving at the scene, the victim overtook another motorbike, touching each other and sending him under the lorry'.
  • During the weekend a great storm to ease the heat; at least the first chance to see the new year's floods. Unfortunately with all Phnom Penh being 'refurbished', floods exist where they never used to (clogged drains, swamps being filled in). In this forum posting Chuangt2u provides his readers with a map of last years street floods.
  • On the 24th of April Cambodia Daily provided it's readers with a write up on a cow in the city. Though customary outside the city, Phnom Penh urbanites are quite unaccustomed to this. So were the police:
    'Two motorcycle-riding officers of the elite Flying Tigers police unit along with several motorcycle taxi drivers were seen chasing a cow south down Phnom Penh's Monivong Boulevard on Tuesday night. ... Owner El Ham [= US citizen?], 45, said his cow was recaptured near Wat Phnom at about midnight. "The cow was scared [it was on it's way to the butcher, course it's scared, da!] and ran," El Ham said, adding that he paid the Flying Tigers and moto-taxi drivers a total of $170 for their efforts'.
    Some expensive cow, some expensive police unit, probably that's why they are elite! What happened to providing a service to the public?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The future is here: De Castle

When Crossing Cambodia started this blog, there were some rumor that Crossing Cambodia must not have much to do, contrary to the truth! However, last night during a 3,5 hour power cut, there was a moment that Crossing Cambodia had really nothing to do. Sitting in a cold bath, reading yesterday's newspaper with aid of a small candle.

And during that moment of having nothing to do, Crossing Cambodia was staring at an advertisement for a new apartment complex, which is to be built just a block away. Somehow the developers decided on the name De Castle, for a 27 or more story apartment building. Opening today this, but they probably mean starting building today.

The advertisement is a full page artists impression of when the building will be finished. Besides the apartment complex towering over local buildings (the highest buildings currently near the complex are 4-5 stories high), the artist has managed to include the rest of Phnom Penh as a backdrop to the design. However the artist has been using his imagination creatively. In the distance one can see non-existent forest covered hills. To give it a more real touch there's also a picture of distance Sorya shopping complex, complete with it's distinctive dome tower. However as the dome is actually on the other side of the building, you would not actually be able to see it, from the artists perspective. So he/she has turned the building. Furthermore there are a lot more non-existent buildings and lots of green. Surprisingly quite a lot of green very near the apartment complex, though in reality there is none! And by the time the apartment complex is finished, a bigger tower (Gold Tower 42) will also have finished, just two blocks away, blocking the view as well as being much taller.

So what's all this to do with Crossing Cambodia blog? The blog is about traffic in Cambodia, no?

The most interesting aspect is the artists impression of Monivong Boulevard. Not only does it have broad sidewalks with a grass strip dividing the pavement from the buildings, there are even people walking on the street. The street itself resembles reality if you consider Khmer New Year's lack of traffic reality! But even more intriguing is the fact that cars drive on different sides or better said on the wrong side of the road. Does the artist know something that we do not know, i.e. that due to the increasing amount of cars with a left hand steering wheel the government is intending to change the side of the road on which you can ride?

Anyway if you for some odd reason would fall for the advertisement and buy an apartment, be warned!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Chasing Cars, Back to work after Khmer New year

Yes, it's back to the organized chaos called Phnom Penh. Can chaos be organized? Time to get used to non-working traffic lights, absence of foot paths, inconsiderate drivers, anarchy, lazy traffic police, useless new plans to stem the adversity of growth, etc., etc. But what has happened in the meantime?

The Khmer New Year leads to some different types of traffic news, i.e. how many road deaths and how to get to ... / how is this or that road?
  • Starting with the former, over at Khmer 440, a discussion on the road to Bokor mountain. On 17 April:
    'As an update, the road up Bokor remains closed except for group trips organized by local operators such as Sok Lim tours. As mentioned in other topics, the road was opened to all during Chinese New Year. I had hoped that the same would happen during Khmer New Year and I confirmed with a local source that this was indeed the case.
    However, when I visited on 2 separate days during Khmer New Year on a dirt bike, I was not allowed up. .... They said cars are allowed up during the holidays but not motorbikes or even bicycles. They also said they had orders from Phnom Penh and that this was due to people having accidents lately'.
    On the eighteenth:
    ' The road is now pretty good and I'd say wouldn't be too hard for a Camry'.
    Yes, well CC went up by Camry on Saturday, a breeze I would say. But we had to rent the Camry as a local tour operator insisted it was not allowed to drive in private cars, which was clearly not the case. Lots of other Camry's were there, with PP number plates. Maybe there are different rules for foreigners?
The first part of the road up Bokor is under construction, the rest is very easy going.
  • Sure, the road to Bokor is unpaved but no potholes, this despite what is mentioned in this article in the Phnom Penh Post (April 18 - May1):
    'The road - currently a muddy, pot-holed nightmare - will be enlarged and sealed at a cost of some $20 million'.
    The authors of this piece probably never visited the place at least not - currently -.
    In all, the article is a nice piece of PR for the Sokimex / Sokha Hotels. Take for instance the sentences:
    'The French colonial buildings will be preserved'
    ' "We will knock down the casino", the owner says'.
    No criticism. The Cambodia Daily for the last few weeks has been advertising for someone to come up with a 'master development plan', makes you wonder? They also mention Sokha projects in Kirirom, where there are none and give the floor to lamentations on Sihanoukville's airport: 'Sihanoukville is dead [?] because of the lack of airport development'. That seems a bit harsh especially to those tourists having problems finding rooms during December / January. The last thing you can call Sihanoukville, is that it's 'dead'. And international flights are coming Sihanoukville's way, Bangkok Airways not only states it will do so, but actually is in the process of buying aircraft for this purpose, at least according to the Bangkok Post on the eighteenth of April.
    And what to think of the sentence:
    'the new development can capitalize on the long standing reputation of Bokor as a high-end gambling retreat'.
    Is this tongue in cheek? The last 30 years has seen no gambling at all, what a long standing reputation! Well, as long as Phnom Penh Posts' pages are full. Let's hope when and if they become daily the quality standards will appreciate.
  • The how to get there part. Khmer 440 again leading the way, this time on the best bus service:
    'We (the Mrs and I) find Mekong Express to be the least worst bus service',
    which seems to sum up this collection of bus horror stories. The small print of your ticket says that your onwards trip to the hotel is a sham. Other experiences:
    'We hopped on the [Sorya] bus in Snooky, the A/C wasn't working, they had to jump start the bus'.
    'I've blacklisted Capitol Bus after the last debacle [full story on the forum]'.
    'Also cross off Mekong Express and Paramount on the Siem Reap route anyway'.
    That does not leave the traveler with much alternatives. Then again isn't that part of the lure of going to far off and exotic locations, bus trips from hell?
  • The neverending story of getting to
    'the city of Solla Solllew,
    on the banks of the beautiful Wah-Hoo,
    where the never have troubles!
    At least very few'.
    [taken from Dr Suess' 'I had trouble getting to Solla Sollew'].

    But of course Crossing Cambodia means Siem Reap. There are encouraging sounds that the road is improving on the Siem Reap - border side, but the border rip offs remain:
    'Editor's Note: Although this traveler did not seem too fussed by the money exchange scam, or this pre-paid trip in general, I would point out that the fact remains he was 1.) ripped off by $22 on the exchange scam, 2.) Had he purchased a visa (I can only wonder what lies they told the other passengers) he would have been ripped off by another $20, and 3.) Although a taxi is indeed a better option, they did manage to extract another $6+ from him to ride in it. So the overcharge was $28+ and could have been nearly $50. This is I think, evidence enough of what I've been saying for years, that these pre-paid transport services should be avoided at all times'.
    Recent images of the road at danbrew.
Then the accidents:
  • Khmer mentions:
    'According to temporary report from authority and ground traffic officers, there are 14 people died and nearly 100 injured in traffic accidents during three days of Khmer New Year 2008 from April 13-15'.
    Phnom Penh Post (April 18-May 1, 2008) mentions :
    'Eight killed, 21 injured in Phnom Penh'. Substantially more people were killed on Phnom Penh roads this New Year, ...'.
    They also refer to RTAVIS statistics mentioning that last year the number of deaths were 74 in total, whereas Crossing Cambodia reported just 54, some difference. Thailand's Nation reports preliminary figures of 324 deaths (up), from Lao no news.
    Elsewhere a more detailed account of an accident, as a high profile singer was involved. Besides describing the accident and the number of deceased, the odd article ends on an upbeat 'note':
    'Sok Pisey has regained her conscience, and she now smiles to her visitors'.
    More from
    'The car’s driver drove like the wind from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap town. After arrive home from local pagoda during Khmer New Year, the victims gathered on the side road on the left. Then the car ran over and killed them [five people at 'least']'.
  • Today's (April 21, 2008) Cambodia Daily keeps us up to date with the villagers vs. quarry battle:
    'Takeo provincial officials Friday asked [not ordered?] the quarrying company to pave a 6 km road in Bati district that villagers blocked for weeks to prevent company trucks from kicking up too much dust, an official said. ICB [the company] agreed to pave the road and then collect toll fees to cover the cost, Tnort commune chief Heng Hong said Sunday. However, ICB manager You Kheang said his company would not pave the road and that it was the provincial rural development department's responsibility to do so. "If it does not pave it, we will discuss it again," You Kheang said, adding that his company is now using a different road for its routes'.
    Well, the question rises what was decided at the meeting? And does the 'different road' now affect different villagers? A case study of ineffective governance.
  • Furthermore in today's Cambodian Daily, another example of good governance:
    'Preah Vihear provincial police chief Mao Pov on Friday denied reports quoting him as saying that police shot at two men on April 13, killing one and missing the other when an altercation arose over how fast the victims were driving. Mao Pov said he had been misquoted and that the police did not shoot at the two men and were not responsible for the death'.
    The small article goes on about how the police know of nothing, which seems at complete opposite ends to the 'truth'. A provincial coordinator for human rights adds that police were implicated, they brought the victim to the hospital and had paid the deceased family $1,000 in compensation. But they are not involved!
    What happens if you run a red light in Preah Vihear? One way ticket to Baghdad? Wrong! The answer is nothing, they don't have traffic lights in the province, barely have anything that resembles a road come to think of it.
  • Phnom Penh Post (April 18 - May 1, 2008) 'Police Blotter' selected entries:
    'April 3 Mom Phearom, 25, was arrested and the motorbike he was riding seized, after he and two associates [?] allegedly robbed a traveler of his motorbike, 10 minutes earlier'.
    'April 7: one of three young men accused of tying wire at head height across a street was arrested after police came across the wire intended to topple motorists by catching them by the neck. Motorbikes, once separated from their rider could then be taken'.
    'April 7: Two men suspected of involvement in the murder and robbery of a women on October 4, 2007 were captured by police in Battambang province. police said the woman had been killed for her motorbike, phone and jewellery. They arrested her boyfriend'.
    Well, fine boyfriend she had. Surprisingly, all above were arrested but not shot. Supposedly they were not speeding ....

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Interview with Meas Chandy (Handicap International Belgium): ‘Traffic accidents are a sickness without symptoms’

From a recent edition of Mekong Times (no. 48., April 11-17, 2008), an interview with an Road Safety Week Program 'official', Meas Chandy. Where does HIB really stand?
Handicap International Belgium (HIB) is conducting a Road Safety Week campaign in a bid to reduce accidents during Khmer New Year. Meas Chandy, a HIB Road Safety Week program official, granted an interview with Neth Pheaktra, editor-in-chief of The Mekong Times, to explain the causes of traffic accidents and how best to avoid them.

How can we ensure drivers properly respect the traffic law and maintain courtesy while driving during Khmer New Year?

'I would like to stress that at the main national festivals, particularly the Water Festival and Khmer New Year, we always organize road safety awareness campaigns in public places. As part of a non-governmental organization, we cannot arrest or fine anyone [who violates the traffic law]. During Khmer New Year, we will conduct a road safety awareness campaign at taxi terminals, factories and public parks. We have distributed traffic law-related leaflets to drivers and passengers in Phnom Penh and in the provinces, particularly along National Road 5. We had great cooperation from local students and commune council members to help us to distribute the leaflets. We focus on taxi drivers … [advising] them not to drive too fast. We have also conducted many campaigns on TV and radio. If drivers understand [this information] and do not follow it, then it is their problem and we can do nothing more'.
But shouldn't real action be sought? In the long run this strategy may pay off, but in the mean time there are a lot of senseless deaths....
What is the main cause of traffic accidents?

'The main cause of most traffic accidents is the “human factor” because people are the ones in control of vehicles ... According to our research the main cause of road accidents is overwhelmingly human error, which accounts for 90 percent of all crashes'.

How many people do you think are aware of the traffic law?
'I cannot give a precise estimate as I have no figures. One might guess that few people are aware of the traffic law. Why? Even students at some high schools and universities do not clearly understand the traffic law. What about the people who are less educated? They have must really have very little understanding ... [This is the main] obstacle to the implementation of the traffic law'.

Is the current traffic law effective in preventing accidents?

'I think that the traffic law is very good. If the law is widely implemented, it will help reduce many traffic accidents because the law bans drunk-driving, requires drivers to wear helmets and sets out speed limits. The law is very clear but our people do not understand it and continue violate it by driving fast in cities. This causes many accidents. The law will help minimize road accidents if our people understand it more clearly. I think that nothing is better to implement the law well than the … fining of offenders. We know that if there is no strict enforcement, our people will have less respect for the law. If people understand the law, the law is disseminated to them, and the law is enforced, I believe that traffic accidents will decline'.
But anyone who has read the law knows that it's totally out of touch with reality. For instance banning drunk-driving: the law refers to alcohol limits with blood percentages mentioned. But there are no testing equipment, so what's the sense of stating these in the law? And what about dodging red lights?
Are you concerned about the current rate of traffic accidents, with 1,000 fatalities so far this year?

'We are very worried about the high mortality rate caused by traffic accidents because we have more difficulties in disseminating traffic accident information than we do HIV/AIDS and bird flu campaigns. When HIV/ADS and bird flu information is disseminated, they increase their awareness. If they are sick, they will want to prevent these diseases and protect themselves. But traffic accidents are a sickness without symptoms. If we are just a little careless, we will have life threatening accident. [The] World Health Organization estimates that traffic accidents are the eighth most common cause of death and will reach third place by 2030 as disease mortality's decline. In Cambodia, the [traffic accident] mortality's are the second most common cause of death. We don’t know whether the rate will increase or decrease. It depends on all drivers’ will: If they implement the law, it will decrease the mortality rate but if they don’t and don’t maintain courtesy while driving, the mortality rate from avoidable traffic accidents will increase.Traffic accidents always increase during Khmer New Year'.

What advice do you have for drivers and passengers during this dangerous period?

'We observe that national festivals and holidays are characterized by the highest number of road accidents, because many people travel to the provinces. In past accidents we observed that drivers didn’t wear helmets or safety belts, drove very fast – sometimes when drunk – and traveled in overloaded vehicles. During the upcoming New Year, I would like to appeal to all citizens to properly respect the law and keep in mind the things that I described above, which are the causes of traffic accidents. All citizens should properly respect the traffic law to avoid possible accidents, which can cause them to lose their time, money and even their lives'.
So are the pursuits of HIB a worthy cause? I quote the HIB director from Chasing Cars, two weeks back:
'The president of Handicap International Belgium [HIB] stated that the topic of this Week of Land Traffic Safety, held for the second time in Cambodia, was to cooperate to reduce traffic accidents through the respect of the traffic law'.
'Co-operate' versus '
If they [the authorities, the police] implement the law, it will decrease the mortality rate' and 'the law is enforced, I believe that traffic accidents will decline'. Are they the same, if so then why not say so? Why would HIB officially call something that's crooked straight?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chasing Cars, Khmer New Year style, April 152008

  • The city of Phnom Penh frees itself from the never ending stream of moto's and cars:
    'Thousands of people crammed onto buses and cars, some clinging to roofs and spilling out of doors, as they headed out of Phnom Penh yesterday for the Buddhist New Year holiday'.
  • The road toll? Today's (April 15, 2008) Cambodia Daily mentions five traffic deaths, elsewhere the country seems to be relatively free of traffic accidents.
  • However, there are some peculiarities when investigating accidents:
    'Policeman Meas Samuth, one of the injured, said his colleague was conducting a traffic investigation following a collision between a motorcycle and child, when a “two gangs” began blowing whistles.
    “My friend asked them to stop,” he said, adding that they told the group the police were working.
    “They did not stop,” Meas Samuth said. “And then my friend asked them to give him the whistle, but they didn’t want to.”
    A fracas ensued, and the youths began beating the police, knocking one of them out, Meas Samuth said'.
  • A clear case of disrepecting the law. Vuthasurf has a blog entry on Respecting the traffic law to reduce corruption. He mentions:
    'The main cause of corruption is in the traffic system after the judiciary system in the current Cambodian society'.
    Furthermore he links on to the new anti-corruption site Saatsaam, though the specific link to the guide on traffic law and traffic fines is only available in Khmer which, in itself, is a very good initiative.
    'If you have committed a fault whilst driving on the road, you should remember: A fine issued without a receipt is corruption. Drivers must always remember to ask for a receipt from traffic police officers whenever they are fined. Drivers should wait to obtain receipt for a fine when they have committed faults and fined by traffic police officers. Asking for a receipt for fines can contribute to reducing corruption in the implementation of traffic law'.
  • More on shady deals or is it not shady? The ongoing saga of creating a national flag carrier. Will it take off? Just read this:
    'With a national flag carrier, we envisage our economy and tourism industry will grow rapidly," Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister, Sok An, said in the statement released by Rajawali.

    Cambodia launched its own national flag carrier, Royal Air Cambodge (RAC), in the mid-1990s but it went bankrupt, resulting in heavy losses for the government'.
    So history tells us that creation of a national flag carrier not necessarily means a good move. The same goes for most countries around Cambodia, where the national carriers are good examples of lacking management (Thai) and excessive chances to influence the airline to take non-commercial decisions such as flying politicians (and their extended families) for free (all the other countries). In this respect one must view how Vietnam is opening up it's airline sector and who knows the recently renamed carrier Jetstar Pacific will be jetting into Phnom Penh by the end of the year; at affordable prices. Cambodia Daily (April 11, 2008) adds that:
    'The Cambodia Association of Travel Agents are frustrated by the lack of information officials have provided about the new carrier'.
    They should not hold the breath, as the new carrier is still considering which new model to use: a 737, 757 or 767? Clearly, by now one would have established which routes to fly and then considered the aircraft. The capacities of the aircraft mentioned are quite diverse, anyway that's their problem.
    p.s.: did you notice that Bangkok Airways mentions a possible link from Bangkok to Sihanoukville on their latest route map?
  • More traffic news revisited ('Biting the dust'). The dump trucks are still obstructed from going to and from the quarry (Cambodia daily, 11 April, 2008).
    'The quarry's manager whose trucks have been halted by the protesting villagers, said his company is not at fault and should not be responsible for paving a public road'.
    To be continued ....

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Chasing Cars, Khmer New Year 2008 style

  • Some would forget that this week is part of the global effort to ensure road safety. This was passed off in Phnom Penh by a great celebration in the Olympic Stadium. At the pow-wow, Chreang Sophan, Deputy Governor of the Phnom Penh Municipality, representing the Municipal Governor Kep Chuk Tema, stated amongst others that:
    'Responding to these issues [increasing numbers of accidents] under the smart [?] leadership of Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Phnom Penh Municipality will be implementing road constructions and road repair plans by paving roads in four districts by the end of 2008, and other plans will be implemented in three other districts in the suburbs'.
    If this is the government's response, then clearly they are in serious need of (re-)education. Furthermore:
    'The deputy municipal governor also called on citizens who travel in the city to drive carefully, and firmly practice the measures passed in the land traffic law. Especially those who use motorcycles and bicycles must wear helmets. ... He appealed to all citizens, the users of vehicles and the users of roads countrywide, to respect and to strictly implement the measures stated in the Cambodian Land Traffic Law, ...'.
    Clearly this official fails to grasp the reality of the traffic law, i.e. bicycle drivers do not require helmets! In a summation of the most important measures of the now old traffic law, this official fails to signify that traffic police are not to accept 'donations'. Practically the only time these curb huggers get into action is to accept donations from passing trucks. Strictly implement?
  • Cambodia Daily (April 8, 2008) also comments on this 'celebration'.
    'Road Safety Week, which kicked off Sunday, aims to raise awareness and reduce traffic awareness and reduce traffic accidents in the days during and around the three day holiday. ... Sun Chanthol [Minister of Public Works and Transport] urged travelers to keep from speeding and overloading vehicles. He also called on motorcyclists to wear safety helmets and for drivers to follow new traffic laws'.
    Oddly enough (if you read next item) it quotes RTAVIS statistics:
    '.... 4 percent of drivers wear helmets'.
    A misquote / failure to understand statistics?
  • What does the Cambodian donor community do, except financing such nonsense?
    'The president of Handicap International Belgium [HIB] stated that the topic of this Week of Land Traffic Safety, held for the second time in Cambodia, was to cooperate to reduce traffic accidents through the respect of the traffic law'.
    Cooperate! Luckily HIB are saved by a recent update on the roadsafetycambodia site concerning the use of helmets. Clearly, it states that the law should have been implemented as of Sept. 1 last year, but compulsory helmet usage is not being enforced (as are none of the other articles of the law).

    Here at Crossing Cambodia we have commented on the fact that only 25-35% of the moto's use helmets. This is validated by this research which concluded that the rate of helmet usage was about 28% with a variation of 25-34%. So much for their research, they could just of looked at this site (and saved some money / time).

    There was some variation though. On some roads outside Phnom Penh, up to 50% of the traffic participants had helmets on. Crossing Cambodia could also state that female drivers also more often use helmets. Their main conclusion:
    'Through out the survey, in 2008 we found that the number of helmet wearing increase in all surveyed national road and in average 8.66% increase. This number will rapidly increase if the new traffic law was respect by the people and the traffic police start to enforce the law and the traffic police take action on the people who don’t wear helmet'.
    Now where have we heard this before? Possibly the main donor of this organization could pay more attention to enforcement than 'cooperation'.
  • In Bangkok, red light dodging has lead the authorities to institute cameras at more than 30 intersections. That's what today's (10 April 2008) Bangkok Post mentions on it's front page.
    'During a trial more than 2,000 vehicles went through red lights in a week at 15 intersections where cameras had been installed.'
    Goes to show, that the only gain, in traffic culture, is pain! Hello Cambodia,are we paying attention?
  • A comparison with Iraq! Finally, Cambodia has something to be proud of. Or not? The Cambodia Daily of sometime this week reports on an ox-cart which was rigged to a bomb so as to injure/kill it's owner!
    'At about 6 am (Monday, April 7, 2008), an activist for local rights group Adhoc in Kampong Chhnang province, was about to move his oxcart in Khlong Popoak commune, when he discovered two large recoilless rifle shells tied to a small trigger under the cart'.
    It could have caused an explosion covering 30 square meters!
  • Cambodia Daily (7 April 2008) headlines: 'Cops among four arrested on extortion claims':
    'The four [a district police official, a provincial tax officer and two money collectors] allegedly operated a checkpoint on a 7 km dirt road taking money from fish sellers and drivers since 2004 [!]. They apparently took [extorted is meant] up to $50 per vehicle. A local company received permission to collect tolls [read bribes] from 2004 to 2020, but not until repairs the company had promised [ah promises are not meant to be kept] are done'.
    Only now has action been undertaken, does this have anything to do with the coming elections except pure co-incidence?
  • Innovative ways to ask drivers to be more human? 'No Horn Day' for instance in Mumbai. For those of us who fail to grasp English, it has nothing to do with sex.
    'Mumbai is very horny. ... Everybody honks because the other is honking. It’s an atavistic instinct it seems. I will be thought of as weak if I don’t honk. They honk when they get free roads and honk of course when there is a red light. Of what use is the horn when the Red light is speaking to you. Why pressurize? But I am an old man at 30 closing my ears at different junctions. Everyday I invariably tell the auto I am in to not honk. Only to be stared back in hatred. Drive, they ask back in silence. Drive in this mess you elite bastard with weak ears, they seem to ask me. I ask them if they don’t hate all this honking? They smile back. Occupational hazard…why take it so seriously! The world honks and so do I. So will you, once you take the wheel'.
    Well, things change:
    'On Monday, officially declared No Horn Day, the Mumbai traffic police, in a fell swoop, fined thousands of drivers for violating honking rules in the city. The count up to 6 pm was 6,195 cases.
    Beginning Monday night, the cops plan to crack down further and prosecute offenders under the Environment Protection Act, which has far more stringent penalties: this act, which can be used in cases ranging from bursting firecrackers or blasting loudspeakers after 10 pm to honking at night, has a maximum fine of Rs 1 lakh depending on the severity of the offence.

    "This will prove an effective deterrent to errant drivers," joint commissioner of police Hemant Karkare told TOI. "However, this move is at a preliminary stage. We need some more preparation before we go the whole hog".

    Karkare declared that the crackdown against shrill and reverse horns, unnecessary honking and honking in silence zones would go on. When a journalist mentioned that SRK felt that No Horn Day should continue for a week, he riposted, "It's not one day or one week. This will now continue permanently".
Minor news, a round up:
  • Another motorbike stolen while simultaneously shooting it's owner.
  • A bus kills a cyclist, who forgot to look over his shoulder.
  • Connect Cambodia (with?) is/are astounded by the 'traffic sprawl'.
  • Cambodia's PM knows what his citizens are thinking:
    'For Hun Sen, there are several reasons which explained this low participation. First of all, the Phnom Penh city dwellers “are fed up with the traffic jams caused by these demonstrations.”'
    Considering there are hardly 'these demonstrations' taking place (unless in front of KFC on Monivong, where demonstrations of lack of consideration take place on a daily basis) and traffic grid lock is expanding daily, maybe it might pay to get traffic lights to function and to enforce the need for motorists to stop when the light is red!
  • An older article which has just resurfaced on Crossing Cambodia's desk. Alas, no date, but undoubtedly from the Cambodia Daily. Ship had hit another sunken ship.
    'A Phnom Penh Port Authority official claimed that Friday's capsizing of a boat carrying sand on the Tonle Sap occurred after it had snagged the top of another sand-carrying boat that had been sitting on the bottom of the river since December. ... Phnom Penh police chief Touch Naruth reiterated Monday that there were no tourists aboard the vessel and ....'.
    What a relief! No tourists on a sand barge!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Chasing Cars Cambodian Style, a week before Kmer New Year

  • A week before Khmer New Year? Cambodian Daily (4 April 2008) reports that the police are stepping up patrols, taking no holidays and putting special emphasis on the streets around pagodas. According to a police district chief:
    'the hope is that an increased police presence will make it safer for those who hold impromptu dance parties on the streets and ...'
  • Phnom Penh Post (April 4-17, 2008) mention an apparent non-event: the bridge over the Sekong river near Stung Treng has opened, thus bringing Lao closer. This, months after it was finished and you could pass if you kept office hours and asked the guard of the bridge politely!
  • A 'only in Cambodia' accident:
    'Twelve people have been killed and 11 others seriously injured in one of Cambodia's worst ever traffic accidents. The crash occurred on Tuesday when a mini-van packed full of travellers collided with a truck as it tried to turn across a highway in eastern Cambodia, district Police Chief Heng Vuthy said.
    "It is a tragedy caused by driver negligence," he said.'
    This according to ABC. More or less the same article can be had over at KI Media, but to spice it up they have included the photo's which were published by a Khmer language newspaper. Buy a Khmer newspaper and you get to see all the victims of whatever crime and/or case of bad luck. Cambodia Daily (April 3, 2008) adds a quote attributed to the provincial police chief:
    'Most drivers don't understand the traffic law or understand how to use their own vehicles and motorbikes'.
    If you see how law is not being enforced, possibly the police fail to understand the traffic law as well!
  • The Cambodian Weekly (March 30-April 5) highlights the business of selling cars, which are hot Khmer New Year presents apparently.
    'The boulevards of Phnom Penh are choked by more cars ...'.
    Prices have gone up by $1,000 as a result of the 'increase in import tax'. According to sellers this increase has not 'dampened demand'. One seller however had a problem: he had sold out of cars and had an empty showroom, that in the week before Khmer New Year.
  • Finally, from the Cambodian Daily (April 3, 2008) lamentations concerning the price of petrol. Tuk-tuk drivers and moto's now have trouble making ends meet and tourists are frustrated as they believe they are being overcharged:
    'They don't believe that this is the price. I tell them the guidebook is very old," Neang Kunthea [tuk-tuk driver] said. "Some people don't understand that gas prices are high" '.
    Neither does Crossing Cambodia.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Chasing Cars, Cambo style, April 2, 2008

Some traffic news latests from Cambodia, arriving shortly after UN discuss and emphasize traffic safety and highlight the amount of (unnecessary) deaths worldwide. Make Roads Safe!
Worldwide probably includes Cambodia. From Cambodia though no news. For instance, one would have expected that by now wearing helmets would be compulsory (which it is) and enforced, but still only 15-30% wear helmets and that's in central Phnom Penh. And can we count how many traffic lights are now not working, this for weeks?
Anyway, the Cambodia Daily yesterday (April 1 2008), printed an article by Norman Mineta which had previously been published in the Washington Post. Excerpts:
'But more than 3,000 people will die on the world's highways today. ...
It took the US 40 years to reverse a trend in increasing traffic deaths.It took time for us to build safer roads and require safer cars, and for safer behavior to evolve on the part of the drivers and other users'.
Forty years? And Cambodia has just started!
'Sweden, the Netherlands and Australia are showing that road deaths are preventable through sustained political commitment to the use of seat belts and motorcycle helmets, to curbing speeding and drunk driving, and to investment in safer road and vehicle designs. It is an approach that can be applied in any country, rich or poor'.
That must include Cambodia. But sustained political commitment, here in Cambodia? Nah.

Now the news:
  • Citizens of Takeo province are biting the dust:
    'Villagers in Takeo's Bati district erected more than 40 makeshift roadblocks Sunday along a 6 km road to stop trucks from blanketing their communities in dust as they haul stones from a quarry'.
    A report from Cambodia daily (April 1, 2008). And what about the company doing the quarrying? The manager:
    "I admit there is dust. But the dust dust does not make sick".
    This is however disputed by the district governor. The solution (after 10 years of quarrying and two years of failure to address the problem): a typical Cambodian pow-wow! Do we know the result yet? Nah (da?).
  • Trucks continue to trouble Takeo. Where in the world can a major national highway be crippled by an overloaded truck? Cambodia?
    'An overloaded truck destroyed the Slar Kou Bridge in Tram Kork district’s Pou Pel commune on the National Road 3 on 27 March 2008. The truck went away after the incident between 12:30pm and 1pm, said Tram Kork police chief Nhem Sien. No one saw the accident because it was the relax time. The bridge was a bit old, the police chief added'.
    From the site, with some grammar edits.
  • Flying directly to the east from Phnom Penh used to halt just over the border in Bangkok. Will Qatar revolutionize this sector as they have done in the past with destinations such as Kathmandu - Nepal, which as Cambodia has / had no (real) flag carrier?
  • Another senseless death?
    'An unidentified man died at the scene when he rode his motorbike to hit a cow crossing Choum Chao road'.
  • Holy Cow?
    'A Cambodian man who took his lover for a spin in his new car was caught out when he pulled into his driveway to be confronted by his wife brandishing petrol, which she proceeded to pour over the vehicle and ignite, police said on Tuesday. Seing Sokny, 25, was alerted to her husband's clandestine drive with his lover in the northern tourist town of Siem Reap by her friends and decided to hit him where it hurt most. ....
    Vibol, 39, had purchased the Toyota Corolla just four days earlier for around $5,000.'.
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