Crossing Cambodia

Friday, October 03, 2008

October's first issue of Chasing Cars

  • With P'chum Ben well and truly behind us, the Cambodian government have starting backslapping themselves. Why? Because a perceived doubling of accidents during P'Chum Ben holidays has not materialized. The reason?
    'Traffic officials say road safety education programs are paying off, with fewer accidents during this year's festival'.
    That's funny when the figures rise, the blame is on the traffic participant him/herself, when they drop it's due to official policy. Let's hope the drop is not proven to be one-off (dreadful weather might be another explanation), otherwise the officials will have to come up with a new explanation.
    By the way the PPP article also mentions:
    ' "We will expand our program in November and focus on the importance of wearing helmets, because 80 percent of people who die in traffic accidents die from head injuries," she [Sann Socheata, Road Safety Program Manager of Handicap International Belgium] said. She added that police will begin fining drivers not wearing helmets in January'.
    Now let's hope the traffic police themselves are also as informed.
  • By the way, city officials claim the drop was due to 'increased police presence'. Neither, neither.
  • Vuthasurf seems to be already on the right side of the law:
    'I am now accustomed to wearing helmet almost every times while riding motorbike to work or go anywhere. It is more than 5 years since I have worn safety helmet. Before I thought it was not necessary, or comfortable to wear it. By the way, it was heavy a little bit, and difficult to move around'.
  • The KR and asisting at scene's of accidents:
    'Finally, speaking of fear of strangers, I hate to admit that sometimes Cambodians do appear to be a little self-centered. Like you, I’ve come across many incidents where commuters do not help the victims of accidents, in fact, I never have either. But having said that, I believe this is mostly, if not entirely, due to the trouble you get from saving people. For instance, If someone sees an accident and tries to help the injured, he/she may have to pay for their hospital bills (as you know, people are very poor and nobody would want to spend their own money) or to be involved with the police.
    The lack of help for victims of accidents which now is the cultural norm is extraordinarily unusual. I can’t think of another country or society in which it happens even though there are many where governments are corrupt and there are many poor'.
    Don't count on assistance! (Isn't that weird?)
  • Back to the officials. As often reiterated on this blog, they haven't got a clue about solving traffic problems before they arise:
    'A total lack of urban planning is putting Phnom Penh in danger of serious traffic jams and flooding'.
  • A big surprise, Cambodia's national flag carrier is yet to appear in the dark and cloudy skies. Blame it on the 'negotiations'. With airlines going bankrupt, easy finance disappearing and a global slowdown possibly around the corner, nobody is expected to invest in an airline, let alone in Cambodia. But Cambodian ministers remain upbeat:
    ' "The new carrier is expected to be profitable because of the rising number of travelers coming to the Kingdom," he [Deputy Prime Minister Sok An] added'.
    But surprise: increasing numbers of travelers don't result in a profitable company.

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