Crossing Cambodia

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chasing cars, wet season style

One would expect two weeks into the new 'get tough(?)' campaign of Phnom Penh's traffic police that adherence to some of the enforced rules of the traffic law would be rising. Unfortunately it's not the case. Wearing a helmet is still only done by 20-30% of the motorcycle drivers and though side mirror counts are increasing, they hardly reach 10% usage. So a waste of time?

With the cloudy conditions, the traffic police have been able to set up shop at new sites looking to surprise the odd moto. Is this positive news? Hardly, those of us awaiting a new dawn after the elections will have to be satisfied with the same old song.

More traffic news?
  • The Cambodian Mirror focuses on the increasing number of deaths in Cambodian traffic:
    'During the first six months of 2008, the total number of traffic accidents was 3,511 which killed 903 people; it increased 17%, compared to the same period of the first six month of 2007'.
  • Rainy season? KI Media has some pictures:
  • Good news for the Vietnamese, petrol smuggling (to Cambodia) is down. This though is bad news for Cambodian drivers who rely on the Vietnamese petrol smuggling for cheap adulterated fuel. With prices at the Cambo pumps dropping, smuggling will also drop.
  • How's the traffic in Cambodia? Kalyan's blog:
    'Yes, the traffic is currently getting worse as there are more vehicles on the streets and some do not respect the traffic law at all'.
  • Matthew describes taking a 'van' from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh:
    'About that point we reached my personal best of being crammed into the taxi, counting 24 people in the van, each contorted to accommodate everyone kind of like a big jig saw
    On the way up we see two traffic accidents and one body lying on the road
    We continue past the airport through the flooded roads, right when a truck overtakes us through the deepest part of the water. The boot of the van is tied down but ajar because it is overloaded. A tsunami of brown, muddy and smelly water is swept up by the truck , through the boot and soaks everyone in the back rows
  • In the rainy season bridges are a luxury. Those traveling from Battambang to Pailin will find out why.
    'A cement containing truck destroyed a bridge'.
    Highway 57 is out for the moment, wait till it dries up.
  • A report connected to the above story? '
    'When roads become rivers. Newly constructed roads on the outskirts of Phnom Penh are deteriorating rapidly, according to local residents, who say hasty repair work and a lack of proper drainage are condemning them to a life of chronic wet-season flooding'.
  • More wet season problems, this time in Siem Reap:
    ' "The plane landed in heavy weather," the [Jetstar Asia] spokesman said. "The aircraft drifted to the edge of the runway" '.
  • Another traffic victim:
    'Pok Chantola, 55, a car salesman in Meanchey district, was crushed to death by a Lexus 470 while waiting for his friend in front of a beer garden in the Chamkarmon district of Phnom Penh at 10:30pm on Saturday. The driver of the Lexus, Hong Piseth, 38, was drunk at the time of the accident. He was detained by police at the scene but was released a day later after he paid $13,300 reparation to the victim's family'.
    Do note the difference in payment, to the incident in last weeks Chasing Cars edition, where the well-connected driver paid only $4,000. Maybe his victim was poorer...
    Meanwhile, the Phnom Post police blotter continues:
    'A drunken driver of a CRV car, and his three intoxicated passengers, crashed into the parking lot of Calmette hospital in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. No one was injured in the accident but 12 motorcycles were damaged by the out-of-control car. Witnesses said that the CRV car did not have a number plate and ended up stuck on the hospital wall. Police have arrested the driver, Khan Kosal, 30. The car and the damaged motorcycles are being kept at the Municipal Traffic Police office'.
    So, if I'm right: you damage motorcycles, you go to jail, you kill someone, you do not go to jail!
  • Finally an unlinked mention. Cambodia's Pocket Guides latest Phnom Penh Out&About issue focuses on accidents:
    'Motorbike accidents are so common in Cambodia, it's taking on the mantle of a national sport.Hit-and-run seems to be the most popular, which typically involve a monstrous SUV barreling through an intersection'.
    The article then gives the classic accident scenario and the lack of insurance which naturally would help Cambodia hugely. It ends with this prophetic words:
    'As Cambodia's traffic laws develop and the capacity to implement them grows, more and more drivers will be required to attend driving school,obtain proper drivers' licenses, be covered with a minimum of third party liability and, most importantly, follow the law. So remember the next time you're pulled over for not wearing a helmet and told to pay that dollar, it's ultimately for your own good'.
    Seeing is believing
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