Crossing Cambodia

Monday, May 05, 2008

Chasing Cars, 5 May 2008

  • Combatting beggars is increasingly becoming a major issue in Cambodia so as to create a healthy image for the millions of (potential) tourists. Read this article in the most recent (May 4) Phnom Penh Post (Beggars to get the boot ...).
    Apparently authorities are taking quite a strict line on beggars: police have been told that they are not allowed to beg (or is it issuing fines?). As read on KI Media which ripped it from
    'The city of Phnom Penh asked the city police force to end the arrest of motorcycles that are not equipped with rearview mirrors, or if their drivers do not wear safety helmets, and the end of the fines for these infractions will begin on 30 April 2008. The city said that this measure was not successful because people still continue not to have rearview mirrors, and they still do not wear helmet. Furthermore, the cops who issued fines for these infractions are in fact pocketing the fines for themselves only. Major Tin Prasoeur, director of the Phnom Penh land traffic police, said that the traffic police used to issue fines to those who do not wear helmet, and those whose motorcycles are not equipped with a rearview mirrors, but, they have stopped issuing fines, and, instead, the police is turning to educating people instead because some of them do not understand the new traffic law very well. Furthermore, for vehicles which do not have a license plate, or do not have a permanent license plate, or they are overloaded with merchandises, the police will still continue to issue fines as before. Tin Prasoeur recognized that in the past, some crooked police officers used fines as an excuse to extort money beyond the fine limit, furthermore, some issued fines but did not provide the receipt to the vehicle owners'.
    This is very weird. Authorities asking police not to enforce the law, while the same authorities actively provide lip service to the same law whenever grand functions are held, such as the Road Safety Week.
    But at the same time, has anyone seen police pulling up unsuspecting drivers? At least in the English section of the web on Cambodia no one seems to have noticed. Crossing Cambodia however did notice some increased activity by police but the lack of other responses possibly thought that these were unrelated to any law enforcement. And has it helped? That's strange not at all, a helmet count yesterday afternoon came to 31%, at seven in the evening it was just 10-11%!
  • Cambodian Daily draws attention to the low rate of helmet-cladded moto drivers and possible future beggars (May 1, 2008).
    'Nearly 50 percent of people involved in motorbike accidents in January suffered head trauma, but only 6 % of those in motorbike accidents were wearing a safety helmet'.
  • What's happening to Cambodia's railway? No news, good news? You may remember that Cambodia seeks to privatize their railways, looks like Thailand is following suit. The state run company is pathetic:
    'The move [privatization] follows SRT's [State Railway of Thailand] chronic losses, making it not possible for the state unit to develop its network for modern logistics, even though rail transport per unit is much cheaper than road transport'.
    And in New Zealand the same argument (rail is cheaper and more environmental friendly) is being used to reverse their privatization of their railways, buying back from Toll, who were in Cambodia's rail privatization driving seat. NZ's PM Helen Clark:
    'With rising fuel prices and growing awareness about the challenge of global climate change, many nations are looking to rail as a central part of 21st century economic infrastructure. She said a modern rail system could reduce the emissions of the overall transport network, take pressure off our roads and allow trucking and shipping to operate more efficiently'.
    Crossing Cambodia begs to know, what the ADB thinks?
  • The little incidents section: a bridge in Stung Treng province 'breaks'. This bridge is located on the main highway to Rattanakiri and with the rainy season just under way, one might need to expect some major delays!
    By the way, Crossing Cambodia begs you to look at this photo on Vuthasurf, it's your local transport to Rattanakiri.
  • The report is minor, not the incident:
    'Two female garment workers died when a truck hit them from behind as they were riding bicycle'.
    This begs the question, was the driver blind?
  • More question marks:
    'Witnesses claim that before the accident, they saw the car was driven to hit the road’s concrete chest and the driver lying down in the car and they smashed the car’s glass to help him. He died at the hospital and doctor said that he had incident because of dizziness'.
  • Cambodia Daily (May 1, 2008) adds to the minor incident section:
    'Police have detained the suspected drunken driver of a car who had fled the scene of two separate traffic accidents Tuesday night before crashing near the Russian embassy'.
    The culprit:
    'whose father is a senior government official'.
    The sentence:
    'if both sides cannot agree [victims and culprit], we will send their case to the court'.
    Obviously he will be let off, without needing to beg!

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