Crossing Cambodia

Friday, August 15, 2008

Chasing Cars, 15 August, 2008

This week sees the arrival of the nearly daily Phnom Penh Post; not much to do directly with traffic I hear you say! But the reporting does focus much on providing local content and what's more local than what's happening on the streets?
What's more they have also managed to maintain (at least this week) an up to date web site rendering many of the past content providers to this site obsolete, at least that seems to be happening. Future will learn.

Another noteworthy highlight of the week has been the back to work ethic by the traffic police. While on my bike yesterday on Monivong, two polite officers were standing in the shade of a tree, one ready to pull someone off the road, the other with a receipt book (for fining purposes) and a copy of the traffic law (for educational purposes). What is going on?
  • It seems a concerted effort is underway to regulate Phnom Penh traffic. At least according to a report from PPP:
    'Police officer Chav Hak said traffic cops were responsible for monitoring four infractions - missing driver's licenses, license plates and rear view mirrors, as well as excess passengers - and were currently focusing on rear view mirror fines.
    "We postponed implementing the law until after the election, but now we are enforcing it."
    According to the traffic policeman, a rear view mirror infraction carries a 4,000 riel fine, ...'
    Still, rear view mirrors? Aren't helmets more important?
    Excess passengers? Will this mean there is a future for taxi's?
    One point of contention is that it seems that motorcycles are disproportionally the focus of the law enforcement.
The trouble in Cambodia with law enforcement is the unpredictable way in which it gets enforced. Possibly unpredictable is the wrong word as it's obvious to all here that the more you own / earn the less you will be scrutinized. Take the next case:
  • 'Phnom Penh authorities remain silent on the identity of the man who slammed his black Cadillac Escalade SUV into a motorbike Sunday night, killing its driver before fleeing'.
    Clearly an offence of the traffic law (fleeing the scene). But the report continues:
    'Numerous traffic police passed the scene without stopping, but the wreck drew the attention of about 20 military police, who removed the license plate from the SUV.
    "After about 30 minutes, the number plate was removed by the armed police," said witness Makara, 17. "I heard the police tell the car driver, ‘Don't worry, it wasn't your mistake. It was the motorbike driver's mistake" '.
    An update yesterday states:
    'On August 3 at about 11:30 pm, a black Cadillac Escalade SUV sped north up Phnom Penh's Sothearos Boulevard at more than 100km/h [speed limit?] before running down a man on a motorbike, tearing off his left arm and left leg in front of the Regent Park Hotel. The SUV's driver attempted to flee, but a destroyed front left tire forced him to pull over in front of the Ministry of Justice'.
    And from the culprit:
    ' "Please stop broadcasting about this case, or I will file a complaint, because the case has already ended. You see, there are a lot of terrible accidents. Why don't [journalists] go there and ask those drivers?"Last week, Deputy Municipal Police Commissioner Him Yan said he would open a file on the case. "According to the law, it must be sent to court," he said.
    But Tuesday Him Yan declined to comment on the case'.
    The driver got off by paying $4,000 to the victim. Life is cheap in Cambodia.
  • More on poor law enforcement:
    'Sihanoukville police attempt to renew ban on motorbike rentals'.
    As reported on various occasions on this site, Sihanoukville seems to be not in Cambodia. There is absolutely nothing in the law which restricts the use of motorcycles to locals, so how can the Sihanoukville authorities get away with this?
Other traffic news:
  • Police blotter:
    'Paralysed driver kills and injures
    Sorn Chorn Pheap, 44, who is paralysed in the left leg, caused a car accident while driving a truck on Highway 4 in Kampong Speu commune on Monday. Say Sok Lim, 5, died in the accident and four others were injured. It is not known why the paralysed man was driving'.
  • Publish against accidents:
    'We have published these books because traffic accidents in our country are increasing and the situation is the worst of all the ASEAN countries'.
  • Paving the road to one of Cambodia's national treasures:
    ' "I got orders from Prime Minister Hun Sen to pave the road from Anlong Veng district town to Sa Em village, Kantout commune, Choam Ksan district, Preah Vihear and to finish it as soon as possible," said Kvan Siem, commander of military engineers at General Command Headquarters'.
  • Overboard?
    'Eight foreign tourists and five Cambodians were rescued from a tourist boat which capsized in high winds and sank near the popular tourist hub of Siem Reap, a district official said today'.
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