Crossing Cambodia

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Synopsis II

As Crossing Cambodia starts in it’s 3rd year of reporting on Cambodia’s traffic situation (and over 7,000 visitors), a brief resume is not out of place.

The first year, this site stated that Cambodia’s traffic is pure anarchy / chaos which was backed-up by many similar reports both on Cambodia’s own situation as well as comparisons with neighbouring countries.

If anything this reign of chaos and anarchy has strengthened. The difference being that increased numbers of vehicles have lead to more chaos. Is it disregard to other road users, ignorance or simple evil that fuels this process?

Part of the problem lies in the fact that Cambodia traffic police are reluctant to get involved. Relegated to the sidelines (literally) they have no compulsion to take action; content with the odd campaign to fine the unfortunate few and rely on a steady stream of ‘voluntary’ contributions dished out by trucks, which are barred from the city for a great part of the day.

The past year has seen little change, though many encouraging voices of how the future will change. Though positive, the future itself will tell whether or not this will happen. And based on the past, we may well already know the answer.

With the increase of traffic, death rates have also increased substantially. With over 80% dying from head related injuries, one would expect that authorities are taking helmet wearing compliance as a serious issue. Though much has been noted in the lip-service on this issue, in reality, the past year helmet wearing has come no closer than it was previously. Possibly it is all the more posturing such as to keep NGO’s happy rather than showing any interest in the safety of it’s own citizens. Especially in the light of how neighbouring countries have been able to successfully implement helmet wearing.

Despite a traffic law being accepted absolutely no aspects of the law are being implemented, i.e. it is totally ignored. Which is sort of a symbol of total apathy.
Other traffic aspects are totally disregarded, the last year has seen the vision of Cambodian authorities: more traffic lights. However any future vision is void; wait until total deadlock / mayhem and then react, seems to be the future. Even in Vietiane, Lao they are studying light rail options to assist city movement, recognizing that private options (though suitable/preferable) are in the end, deemed to increase deadlock and thereby contribute to economic damage.

Last year’s synopsis didn’t end on a high note, nor will this years. Pathetic seems to be a best description of traffic in Cambodia. Can it get any worse?
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