Crossing Cambodia

Thursday, October 30, 2008

October '08s' last Chasing Cars

Another week, another list of traffic related news:
  • Drawing up a workable traffic law is proving to have some difficulties. Not here in Cambodia, but over in Vietnam. Apparently the the Ministry of Health was requested to come up with physical requirements needed to be met before obtaining/extending a drivers' license. According to AFP, the Ministry had drafted an 83(!) point plan, no less. The main points:
    'The Decree 33/2008 says that those who are under 1.45m tall and weighing under 40kg will no longer be allowed to drive motorbikes, and car drivers must now be at least 1.5m'.
    Basically it had been some crude guess work by officials. Anyone under the Vietnamese average (that's usually 50% of the population) should be viewed as unhealthy and thus unfit to drive. Besides discriminating against women (who weigh less and are smaller), disabled would also be discriminated against.

    Naturally common sense caught up with this plan and it has been shelved:
    'The Ministry of Health has admitted its recent decision to set 83 health criteria for drivers of cars and motorbikes was unworkable'.
    However the aforementioned AFP article sees some (cheap?) way of gaining extra readers. One of the standards to be met included the circumfence of the drivers chest:
    '... spurned jokes about traffic police with tape measures enthusiastically flagging down female motorcyclists, and predictions of a run on padded bras'.
    However, it seems AFP have problems with the anatomy of flat-chested persons. They tend to be males. Oops.

    What about drivers who can't see over the bonnet of their Lexuses?
  • When is a crash, an accident in Cambodia? On the one hand, you could say that traffic participants in Cambodia are so ignorant, that every accident must be an accident. Or the reverse, due to the ignorance (and it being known to all) all accidents are intentional. Stay at home, no accidents. However this is no laughing matter to some:
    'Well-known comedian Prum Manh, 58, told the Post Tuesday his motorbike crash over the weekend, in which a car collided with him, may not have been an accident and that he continues to fear for his personal safety.
    Tin Prasoeur, Phnom Penh's municipal traffic police chief, told the Post Tuesday: "I was informed by one of my officers that the car involved in the accident was yellow and made in Korea, but it will be difficult to find without the plate number." '
    How many yellow Korean cars are there in Phnom Penh? Not many.

    Anyway who could be an enemy of a comedian? A very serious guy? Another comedian? The accident though has not affected his sense of humour:
    ' "I know the car's plate number, but I will not reveal it now," Prum Manh said. "I will only tell a competent police officer when I file an official report." '
    CC wishes Prum good luck with that quest; that should keep occupied for a couple of years.
  • Traffic safety issues are a worthwhile cause. The first 9 months in Vietnam have seen a 13% drop in traffic deaths.
    'He emphasised the need for continued campaigns to create awareness of traffic rules, for the provision of regular street patrols and strict punishment for those who violate road laws.

    He placed special emphasis on long-distance buses and those travelling on motorcycles without helmets'.

    Let's compare with Cambodia, gosh all the above does not apply here. Now the more difficult question, why not?

  • Proof? Khmernews mentions a new regulation:
    'The Phnom Penh municipality called on all citizens, who are doing business on Phnom Penh City roadsides, to stop selling goods or foods on those pavements within seven districts'.
    They've been given a week. But:
    'Phnom Penh police chief Touch Naroth said that we will try to reinforce the public order although we cannot reach 100 percent'.
  • Are Cambodia's railways really being spruced up? The Phnom Penh Posts believes so:
    'Management of Cambodia's national railway is set to be transferred to an Australian company that is to upgrade the system and collect revenue.

    The 30-year contract would go to Toll Holdings to renovate the existing system and add additional lines.'
    One surprise is that:
    'We expect the railroad to be mainly for passengers, not goods'.
    Hmmm, that seems to be in contrast to all the earlier agreements. And why then sign a contract with Toll Holdings, who are an Australian logistics operation with no proven knowledge of transporting passengers. At least according to their web-site. Time will tell?
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