Crossing Cambodia

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

After the waterfestival: is there more traffic news? a.: Chasing Cars

With the Water festival now behind us, it's might pay to look into the headlines in traffic related news in Cambodia. But ..., nothing has changed. Nothing ever changes, that's the main problem with traffic in Cambodia. It was a chaotic & anarchic. It still is.
What about the smaller changes? What about them:
  • Possibly the biggest headline is the fact that a Cambodian company has been officially recognized by the EU. Siem Reap Airways has been blacklisted! No more flights to Europe for them.
    But what do they care? They only fly between Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Bangkok and Hong Kong. So why worry indeed?
    ' "Siem Reap does not fly to Europe. Probably the [EC] was giving a warning beforehand, in case Siem Reap Airways planned to open service to Europe," said Him Sarun, chief of Cabinet for the Civil Aviation State Secretariat'.
    Probably. What this official forgets is that the EC (of the EU) doesn't draw up the list for the fun of it. Besides using legislation to prevent the companies on the list from entering the EU, it also signals to EU citizens (and to most world citizens) that the companies black-listed are to be avoided. Thanx for the info, EC.
    More worrying is that the EC mentions:
    ' ... the carrier [Siem Reap Airways] "does not operate in compliance" with Cambodian safety regulations'.
    So in spite of the reassurement by Cambodian officials, Cambodia is made a laughing stock. If the only company operating domestic flights can't even meet it's own guidelines! What are the officials going to do? Look into the matter or hand over more dough to CNN to launch another advertising campaign stressing how irresistible Angkor Wat is?
  • The law? A son of a general believed he could cause an accident and flee. For once he was unlucky:
    'However, because the accident he caused led to injuries to other people, the police officers did not worry about his threat, and they proceeded to arrest the driver as well as confiscating his car to send to the police headquarters immediately'.
    Did he pay the victim?
  • Car 'capsizing' during Water festival:
    '11 injured men sent one after another on Tuesday afternoon after their car had capsized on the national route number six A'.
  • What's it like to travel in Phnom Penh during the Water festival. SunSan on Khmer440 forum:
    'I made the mistake of driving into Sothearos from Mao Tse Tung last night... Arrived there at 7pm, left at just after 10pm. Without even passing the Russian embassy. Never again!'
  • The response of Phnom Penh's citizens to avoid this is to 'flee' the city:
    ' "We didn't want to stay in Phnom Penh because it gets so crowded with traffic everywhere," ... '
    is just one comment in this Phnom Penh Post article.
  • Andy Brouwer agrees:
    'We had a taste of the traffic chaos expected during the water festival's 3-day horror-show next week, when the traffic lights failed on the city's main thoroughfares around 5pm tonight and every road including all the side roads around BKK1 were snarled up with traffic jams. It was complete madness and much like what I experienced during last year's water festival period. This year I won't be around as I'm off to the south coast on Saturday for a week's break'.
  • K.K. experiences how traffic is regulated during the Water festival:'
    'While I was thinking highly of the authority, suddenly I spotted a temporary road barrier placed at the side road on my left hand side, where several military police were guarding. Not only this one, but each side road had its own. The message was clear; no motorbikes or cars were allowed in. But I saw a few bikes passing through and I was wondering how they could do. The answer was obvious. Money!
    It was unreasonable to spend one dollar just to travel on a public road the government has to build for their own citizens. And if they really were ordered to keep public order by banning all vehicles inside, several other vehicles that had gone should not have been let in!!! I would listen if they had been doing their job'.
    Will these attitudes ever change?
  • This car also passed the barriers apparently.
  • Rainy season over? Not yet:
    'Nine kilometres of road works from Preah Vihear's Kou village to Ta Moan Thom temple have been postponed due to flooding and rain, officials said Sunday.

    "We can't build the road due to the ongoing rain. We have postponed it until the rain stops," said military engineer Kvan Siem'.
    It only exemplifies the logic of starting a road works project at all, if the rainy season is still underway.
  • Petrol prices not dropping in Cambodia. In Lao they're luckier:
    'The price of fuel will drop below 8,000 kip this week in Vientiane in line with lower prices on the global oil market, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce has announced'.
    See what a communist country can do for you!
  • Once out of town Andy brings us up to date with road to Bokor:
    'It was horrendous, well the road was. Yes its been widened but it ain't finished and looks like it'll be years before it is. Maybe the Sokimex company have bitten off more than they can chew with this one. I am black and blue from riding in the back of the pick-up truck as we bounced over every hole, bump and crevice in the unfinished road'.
  • More news from travelling to the provinces on the Khmer 440 site by scoffer:
    'The touts at Battambang are a bit of a rip off
    Got to Siem Reap, most buses stop at a compound several km’s outside of town, upon arrival the bus company I booked with, locked the gate behind the bus to keep the touts out and I was approached by a guy claiming to be a representative of the bus company wanting to know if I had booked accommodation and knew where I was going as he could arrange transport that would take me into town – my initial response was “Piss Off” all you will do is rip me off and sell me to a guest house, he smiled and walked away only to come back after I’d finished my smoke and settled a bit. He again showed me his ID and said he could arrange transport, I was still suspicious but let him talk, end result was I nominated a land mark in town I wanted to be dropped off at, no tour of possible guest houses required. He spoke to a driver outside and I was dropped off at the nominated area without any hassle and for a better price than the touts wanted. All without a tour of guest houses that paid commission to the drivers. Nice Touch !' His final comment: '
    And finally there is a degree of comfort in being able to stand up and move about that you don’t find when you are sardine number 11 in a mini van carrying 16 people, two motor bikes, 3 screaming children, 14 ducks, 170 kilos of rice in assorted bags 7 and an old man that smells as if he has been dead for 3 weeks.'
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