Crossing Cambodia

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chasing Cars, September 23, 2008

With Pchum Ben festivities nearing, both the police checks and bag snatching have increased, is this not a contradiction?

Despite the outbreak of police checks, moto's with mirrors are still increasing but not in majority. The same applies for helmet wearing drivers, 40-50% now have taken to wearing helmets. Still if you have witnessed the effort the traffic police have dedicated to pulling moto's up, the figure might represent a disappointment, possibly something is going wrong with the enforcement.

Witness Crossing Cambodia did of a bag snatching incident. Two guys pull up next to 2 girls, chat, chat, laugh, laugh, lung, grab and tear off down a side street. Be careful out there!
  • The government is now pressuring oil companies to get their prices down. All the posturing resulted in the prices at the pump drop by a whopping 0,02 $US! This article in the Phnom Penh Post sums up all the claims: prices have failed to go down.
    But the government responds:
    'International crude oil prices soared more than 84 percent by June 2008, while the price of petrol in Cambodia only rose about 40 percent, the [Finance] minister said, crediting the difference to the government's "silent subsidy" of petrol'.
    Unfortunately the 'silent subsidy' claims that the government probably stopped increasing it's import revenue on petrol, changing from a percentage tariff to a fixed amount. So no subsidy, just less income. Then again why should the government get more by fleecing the consumer?
  • Bangkok, this weekend, saw the 'Car Free Day'. And that does not mean that cars were exempt from paying toll on the elevated highways! No, it means grab a bike or take the bus. Funny thing is it is government endorsed:
    'In Thailand, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, Bicycle for Health Society, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation and Green Peace Southeast Asia will join 14 of the world's largest cities in the car-free day'.
    The closest Cambo authorities get to even mentioning non-motorized transport is when they slag off all too poor for having no wheels. The gov of PP mentioned:
    'Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said Sunday that the citywide pavement narrowing project will help make more room for cars, and should not be problematic as few people use the capital’s sidewalks anyway.
    “I want to reduce all the sidewalks to be smaller and smaller because our people use cars and motorbikes. We do not like to walk” Kep Chuktema said'.
  • Car Free Day was 'celebrated' in Vietnam as well.
  • In Vietiane they have a novelty:
    'The Vientiane Urban Development and Administration Authority is in the process of installing 50 road name signs around Vientiane ...'
    'Forty road signs have already been installed, but the authority lacks sufficient funds to continue with the project and is waiting for further support from the International Association of French Mayors.
    Thank god for the French.
  • Why Cambo airlines will never get anywhere: more than a year after an air crash involving South Koreans the relatives have actually have to sue the Cambodian airline to get some kind of compensation. Let's hope they're not holding their breath.
    What are you in for?
    'South Korean investigators have concluded that the accident was caused by pilot error, problems with the airport's automated radar terminal system and defects in the plane'.
  • A very strange article in the Sydney Morning:
    'Malaysia's worst in the world taxis tarnish image
    In a survey by the local magazine The Expat, some 200 foreigners from 30 countries rated Malaysia the worst among 23 countries in terms of taxi quality, courtesy, availability and expertise'.
    Well quite correct to take those taxi drivers to the cleaners, my opinion is similar: they are not at all what Malaysia makes them to be. Then again, Malaysia = truly Asia, so not such a big surprise. Cambodia counts itself lucky they weren't part of the survey on the grounds of having no taxi's to speak of. Could Cambodia not have entered moto's instead., they are after all our local 'taxis'? See who then would end at the bottom of the heap. Our moto drivers are no where near a KL taxi driver ...
  • Another bad Poipet experience:
    'We also got shepherd into a mafia taxi with another couple, we all pay 15 usd each. The mafia man taking charge of getting us into a taxi was getting angry with us because we first lied about having our visa already when he approached us at immigration on the Thai side, then we didn't go straight to his taxi and wanted to look around. He kept saying we could trust him, he was with the Tourist Police and we told him we didn't trust them either.
    We couldn't find any other option so took his anyway'.
  • Back to the bag snatchers. There are also amateurs entering this profession:
    Chea Dara, 16, was severely beaten by a crowd of bystanders after he pulled Kong Darany, 28, off her motorbike in an unsuccessful bag snatching attempt on the corner of street 109 and Russian Boulevard in Prampi Makara district of Phnom Penh at 11:30am Monday. The police said that Chea Dara, who was pulled off his motorbike by the bystanders, "was severely beaten by the people until he lost consciousness". He is currently in police custody awaiting trial'.
  • More things increasing:
    'Some 1,777 traffic accident casualties were reported by hospitals, health centres, private clinics and traffic police departments in 24 provinces for June, an increase of 20 percent over May, according to the Cambodian Road Traffic Accident and Victim Information System'.
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