Crossing Cambodia

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chasing Cars, two days before Christmas, 2009

Nearly 2 weeks have passed since the latest edition and I'm yet again sorry to say hardly anything has happened. That said I mean on the traffic front. Elsewhere the Cambodian government has been staking it's claims by forming the Thai opposition, pussy footing the Vietnamese, getting more from the Chinese than even the rest of the world managed during the Climate talks (well, actually selling a dozen Uigers and their criminal kids) and slagging Bangladesh's efforts to control battery acid as undoable. So if you are waiting for miracles for next year, they just might well happen ...
  • Public transport is on the cards. Cambodia can do all the above but fails to even set up a system under which private enterprise may well do all the public transportation. Within the city, it relies on a load a free-wheeling cowboys who's mass transport is literally that; motorcycles with a slightly extending sitting area which will either take you, your family and their neighbour's daughters school class or anything smaller than a container. Can we call this public transport?
    Outside of town we use mini-buses which have been deliberately not changed to facilitate passengers, which are subsequently overloaded and decrepit. Or we use saloon cars, beyond their purchase by date, stuff as many people as possible (10 or more), plus a number in the (open boot) and thus we travel up and down the country.
    But that's set to
    change:
    'Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema has pledged to create a public transport service within five years in a bid to ease traffic congestion in the capital'.
    So public traffic is not for the public but it's there to allow hot shots to keep easing through the city. Five years? Ambitious.
    '“Now, we are thinking that if we create a bus system, people will travel by bus,” Kep Chuktema said, adding, however, that “Cambodian people do not like to walk, and they like to use their own vehicles to travel quickly to their destinations. This is an obstacle to creating a public bus system”'.
    The biggest obstacle to public transport in Phnom Penh is the lack of forward thinking and common sense.
  • Thailand will start cracking down on pillion riders without helmets.
  • More back slapping yourself. Helmet wearing triples due to the efforts of:
    'The primary reason for the increase in helmet wearing rates is the multi-stakeholder helmet awareness campaign'.
    And law enforcement. And more law enforcement. And more law enforcement. And ..., well you get the idea.
    The fact of the matter is that the organization involved has been propagating helmets for years and only once the police started to see the point, the system kick in. The result?
    'The latest figures from Cambodia's Road Crash and Victim Information System (RCVIS), meanwhile, show that the helmet wearing increase has led to a nationwide 3-percent drop in motorcycle crash fatalities due to head injuries'.
    Three percent. My thoughts are that the drop may well be related to the economic slump ...
  • Anyway the RCVIS has no back-up data on this, they have been wrong in the past. Just looking at most recent data. Fatalities are up (and the number of hospitals reporting to them is especially here in Phnom Penh is low), on average this year 25% were hit and run cases, more than half reported speeding as cause and 1 in eight of the cars involved had the steering wheel on the wrong side ... Do I hear the government ?
  • How many times can you get in the press? ADB congratulates itself yet again for reviving the national railways. Let's just wait till it's happened.
  • Trade with Vietnam can go up, if only there were good roads.
    'Locals, government officials and economists say the ill repair of Kampot’s Road 33 does more than slow motorcycles: it slows trade and economic growth'.
    Road 33 is slated for an upgrade next year it seems as ADB and Australia match Cambodia's 3.7 $ million with 4 times as much ...
  • Fighting the law? A first hand account of being crashed and seeking redemption. Not.
    'So my friend catches up with them and says "You know you just hit someone back there?" and in true "off the rails" fashion the passenger who incidentally is a uniformed policeman reaches behind him and pulls a pistol on my good Samaritan friend, saying "i think you should leave this alone"'.
    Elsewhere on the
    EAS forum I read that police are concerned about getting bad press ... Now why would any one slag the police? Or the countryf or that matter?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chasing Cars, December the tenth 2009

Two whopping weeks have passed and I haven't hardly got anything to elaborate on. Boring, boring. Police are out doing their job. The dodgers are out dodging the police and no improvement seems to be happening.
  • Phnom Penh Post looks at corruption yesterday (9 December 2009). The visual example is as follows with subtext:
Photo by Tracey Shelton.
'Police refuse to issue a traffic fine to a driver on Sihanouk Boulevard earlier this year, saying they do not have the paperwork for official fines and can only accept bribes'.
  • New tax proposal accepted by the Cambodian parliament:
' “The budget law for 2010 foresees also an increase of taxes on means transportation including automobiles (road taxes):
  1. Vehicles with a power over 12 HP to 17 HP, within 5 years from their production date, have to pay Riel 500,000 [approx. US$125] each year, and after the 5th years, it is Riel 360,000 [approx. US$90].
  2. Cars with a power over 17 HP to 24 HP, within 5 years from their production date, have to pay Riel 1,600,000 [approx. US$400], and after the 5th year, it is Riel 1,200,000 [approx. US$300].
  3. Cars with a power over 24 HP, like Lexus’ and Land Cruisers, had to pay only Riel 1,000,000 [approx. US$250] for road tax in the previous year, but next year, they will be charged Riel 2,000,000 [approx. US$500].
  4. As for passengers’, general transportation, and tourists’ cars with a power of 12 HP, and small motorbikes, their taxes are kept at the same level'.
  • Boating in Cambodia. A talesofasia forum entry has all the answers.
  • The airport ready but still not opened (Sihanoukville) is pleased to mention that it just mite receive regular flights from neighbouring countries Malaysia and Korea. No wrong, our neighbours are Thailand and Vietnam. Wouldn't that be more logic, flights from Saigon and Bangkok? Rather than an A320 from Seoul?
  • Economy getting back into shape. I mean economic indicators pointing to more money being made in the country but collectively we're getting poorer at least psychological, why need money? To buy .... motorcycles!
    'Dealers say new Honda models are driving recent rebound'
    They drive themselves?
  • Yet again suckers trying to bus themselves to/from Bangkok, this time via Koh Kong.
    'The Combined tickets F*ck us travellers. And Koh Kong is not a quick way to Bangkok....The companies don't think we will spread the word.....do it! We are not collectively STUPID'.
    Is that a question? Do you really want me to answer that?
  • More on buses to/from Sihanoukville. From Khmer 440:
    'Be aware that if you are doing this trip with Kampuchea Angkor Express, they do not stop in PP city area, but continue straight across the Jap. Friendship bridge to their new office on the other side of the Tonle Sap. All that inspite of me asking where they stop, before buying my ticket. Their answer was at the Old Market. Maybe this is the first stage of relocating all buses outside the city center'.
    Interesting that, spend an extra hour in the bus so as to be dropped off at some kind of out of town shelter, jam packed with creamers (moto's / tuktuks). Great system. What about the government open up bus stations for the diverse directions, i.e. a southern, western, northern and Vietnamese bus station? They could ex-expropriate some poor souls, get some git to do all the work for free, lease it out for 100+ years (that's the theory) and sit on top of the cash and do the public a favour in the process. City Hall reads this blog? Nah, they have no dosh for a internet connection ...
  • On yer bike? Tomorrow an exhibition by Bike Ben on something he did and how he landed up in the Penh. @ the living room.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Chasing Cars yet again

  • Under the government's search light this week are yet again the tuk-tuk's:
    'City Hall has announced it will stop fining tuk-tuk drivers who lack licence plates until the end of the year, but a ban on tuk-tuks driving along Norodom Boulevard is set to remain in place.
    ...
    Nhem Saron, director of the Municipal Department of Public Works and Transport, said drivers must all respect the Land Traffic Law. “We did allow [tuk-tuks] to drive along Norodom Boulevard, but they did not respect" the law, he said. City Hall cabinet chief Koet Chhe said the city did not allow tuk-tuks to drive along Norodom Boulevard because they wanted to keep roads clear for foreign delegations visiting Cambodia'.
    Yet, if they want the roads clear, why take all the Lexuses off, they would make a much bigger impact.
  • And more under the spotlight. Now even Deputy PM's (how many?) will not be allowed to use sirens ...
Air transport seems to be the most talked about, just look at the following articles:
  • Phnom Penh just might be connected to the Philippines in the not so distant future, thereby avoiding an expensive flight to Saigon or backtracking to Bangkok.
    'Cebu Pacific Air, a Philippines-based airline, plans to begin direct flights between its home country and Cambodia in the spring of 2010, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said Tuesday'.
    Funny how you are in a regional grouping striving to be one economy and not have direct flights. Next up Djakarta?
  • Sihanoukville's airport has been personally declared fit to open by the Minister some time back, but the official opening seems to be in the phase of putting off to the future.
    'The official opening of Preah Sihanouk International Airport has been delayed until next year at the request of the French embassy, State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) Secretary of State Mao Havannal said Thursday'.
    So minister yes, French embassy no. Some much for Cambodia being a sovereign state ...
  • Sovereignty is at the heart of the following.
    The plot:
    Cambodia not like Thai, Thai not like Cambodia.
    Some Thai not like Thaksin.
    Thaksin get kicked out of country.
    Cambodia now like Thaksin.
    Thaksin go to Cambodia.
    Thai in uproar.
    Cambodia not care.
    Apparently Cambodian skies are controlled by Thai firm Samart using CATS as the local front office. One employee hands over flight plan of Thaksin after he has landed (and traversed Thai air space) to Thai embassy official. Cambodia arrests person, kicks official out and takes over the company.
    'Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Cambodia’s takeover of CATS was “temporary” but necessary “to ensure national security and public safety".
    Which was not the case before hand?
    What is the reality? Nine Thai are replaced by 1 Cambodian. That should be good for the confidence of all Cambodian air travellers.
    KI Media
    adds:
    'Cambodia rejected Monday a Thai media claim that the daughter of Prime Minister Hun Sen is to take a stake in a Thai firm at the centre of a spying row'.
    An ASEAN spying row?
A Russian project to build a bridge to Koh Pos just off the coast of Sihanoukville.

Rail news.
  • The railways are decrepit and so a foreign company will spruce them up. that costs money. So some things have to go. Personnel. Apparently the company's previous business plan was as follow:
    'Development at the Royal Railways of Cambodia totally stopped, trains run at speeds of 40km/h down to 5km/h'.
    A train driver laments:
    'At present, I only earn a salary of Riel 116,000 [approx. U$29] per month, and I have been working as a train driver for 28 years. Other workers shouted annoyingly, ‘Even nobody is promoted to new positions, and nobody knows when the salaries will be paid; if there are promotions, this happens only to their partisans.’
    The
    Mirror adds as final sentence:
    '“The under-secretary of state in charge of the Royal Railways of Cambodia, Mr. Touch Chankosal, told Deum Ampil, ‘I did not know that the workers had protested" '.
  • Andy the only train spotter Cambodia has, is now focusing on finding missing train stations as there are no trains to spot.
    'For a look at one of those destroyed stations, the shell of Koh Touch, some 16 kms west of Kampot, is worth a look if you are out that way. Some of the walls remain as do the floor tiles, but very little else, as the vegetation has a stranglehold on what's left. A group of female rice-workers in a nearby field looked at me as though I was a complete madman as I took pictures of this empty ghost of the bygone days of the southern line'.
  • Another boat disaster. The term used seems a bit out of sync.
    'The bodies of a father and his three children who drowned after a boat carrying seven people capsized in Kandal province’s Lvea Em district on Wednesday morning have all been recovered'.
  • New Zealand teaches us road rules.
    'A stint in Cambodia teaches you to appreciate road rules. Traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, the give-way rule and seat belts reveal themselves as true blessings. In my time in Cambodia I was honked at, swerved past, almost run over and driven into the path of an oncoming concrete truck by an unrepentant tuk tuk driver.
    ...
    You certainly learn to appreciate roads rules for what they are - lifesavers'.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Chasing Cars, November 9 2009

  • From Phnom Penh's Post Police Blotter (26 Oct. 2009):
    'A university student was arrested in Phnom Penh on Saturday after throwing his helmet at a police officer during a traffic stop. The accused was stopped for not wearing a helmet while driving his motorbike near Royal University of Phnom Penh. He then threw his helmet, which was hung on the handle of his motorbike, at the police officer. The man’s father explained to police that his son suffers from a mental illness as a result of a traffic accident'.
    Guy is mental for not wearing a helmet and having an accident. What does he do, continues his previous lifestyle. Symptomatic for Cambodia's (lack of) education?
  • And a day later the Police Blotter (27 Oct. 2009) reports: '
    A woman who fled from traffic police on Saturday fell off her motorbike on Russian Boulevard in the Sen Sok district of Phnom Penh. The fall rendered the woman unconscious, said witnesses, who added that the bike was equipped with a licence plate and side mirrors, but that the woman had been driving without a helmet. Bystanders complained that police had caused the accident by chasing the woman, who was subsequently brought to an area hospital for treatment'.
    It's quite a common occurrence, police being more vigilant. Over the past weekend I was in Sihanoukville and along the way were a few surprise police check points one which had just then resulted in a minor accident.
  • Old story, woman has an accident and goes beserk. She received instant justice: 1,5 year. Then PM wades in and finds sentence too lenient and presto, authorities are now pushing for a harsher sentence. so much for independence of justice. The new charges: trepassing [you never know how long you can go in the lock up for that, in Cambodia] and intent to kill, despite the article claiming
    'she fired a gun into the air'.
    Aiming at who?
  • Another ongoing story with so many twists and turns it's hard to understand what's it about. Well, umm it's about dominance of Cambodia's internal skies with two companies vying and despite both failing to adhere to Cambodia's aviation standards which in itself is also lacking competency. Tripadvisor has the following:
    'I've flown VN air (company running flag carrier Cambodia Angkor Airways) turbo-prop planes HCMC-Nha Trang-HCMC - all fine except return leg was delayed'.
    So not so fine ...
'Volunteers [paid and forced kids] educate an unhappy motorist about road safety laws on Sunday as part of a regular education campaign by the nonprofit organisation aimed at reducing the number of road casualties in the Kingdom'.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chasing cars, October 26 2009

Again a lot nonsensical news on Cambodia's roads and traffic in general:
  • Probably the most extensive coverage is reserved for who is allowed to fly within the country. The government seems intent on allowing their own airline (um, actually the airline of Vietnam Airlines) to be the sole operator by throwing up all kind regulations to which it's competitors fail to comply, only for the same to apply for it's own airline! The tourist is left stranded, but who cares? the headlines:
    'Tourism head calls for government to support airlines' (21 Oct.), 'Regulator to write for SRA permit' (22 Oct.) and
    'International aviation to
    review' (23 Oct).
  • More airline info:
    'New routes to be added'.
    All new routes
    are from Siem Reap to Korea.
    Then the Airport in Sihanoukville is scheduled to open according to
    KI Media. In the report the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) Secretary of State Mao Havannal had the following to add on the subject above:
    'According to Mao Havannal, Siem Reap Airways may be unable to fly from the airport as it has not registered any planes in Cambodia, a requirement for domestic operators to receive an Air Operator Certificate (AOC). “I don’t know for sure if Siem Reap Airways will be able to fly or not” said Mao Havannal. “It depends on the airline because we have already confirmed with them that if they want to resume their operations, they need to register an airplane [in Cambodia]. “It already completely complies with SSCA requirements and has satisfied concerns over its operations.”'
    Weird that the Cambodia Angkor Airways can fly while it also has failed to comply with this regulation.
  • Good news for the bus masochists, Laos is planning buses to ply from Pakse to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
    'According to officials, the Pakxe Public Bus Association has been given permission by the Lao government to provide a bus service to Cambodia . The association planned to provide buses from Vientiane to the southern Lao province of Champassak , and on to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in Cambodia , they said.'
    That means you will soon be able to take the bus to Jinghong, China with just two changes of bus, in Pakse and in Vientiane. Time 3 days and nites?

What's wrong here? Cambo authorities are lacking funds to have simpel signboards.
So they get them sponsored. But then the signboards turn into advertising bill boards.
Then if you click on the photo for detail you see how poorly the directions are given.
No design standard is used and even the opposing traffic lanes are to be used.
Going straight can on the lanes left and right
while the center lane (of a 2 lane road) is to be used to turn right.


  • In Cambodia though buses are to be regulated:
    'would require that companies hire two drivers per bus, and that the drivers switch off every 150 kilometres to avoid fatigue-related accidents'.
    The bus company replies:
    'Chan Sophanna, general manager of Phnom Penh Sorya Transportation, said he welcomed the effort to improve road safety but said the cost of two drivers would be too high. He went on to defend bus drivers who had been involved in road accidents, blaming them on “careless pedestrians” who walked into traffic without looking. The drivers, he added, needed to flee the scene in many cases to avoid retribution at the hands of onlookers'.
    Blame the victims.
  • The Phnom Penh Post has some pointers on how to establish and manage a Cambodian bus company:
    'Don’t lose sight of the small things. You can hire people to sweet-talk tourists into foregoing the money exchange booth at the border in order to rip them off at the bus station. Any day when you can convince a na├»ve Chinese teenager that he should change $50-worth of Thai baht into riel for an abysmal rate is a small victory.
    ...
    Once customers have purchased their exorbitantly priced tickets and gotten on your decrepit bus, it’s time to let the good times roll. What, in theory, would be a three-hour ride should be lengthened, with a minimum of four stops at shabby restaurants so your fares can purchase plates of oily fried rice for two dollars a pop'.
  • In Lao they have a new solution to easing higher traffic accident rates:
    'Luang Prabang province will be the second province in Laos to launch a project to prohibit secondary school students from riding motorbikes to school.
    ...
    The project aims to help reduce road accidents and traffic, saving family expenditure and protecting the environment'.
The Cambo solution: shelve the moto and the bike.
Post Ketsana use the boat to get to school.
Original from
Reuters.

  • An ongoing issue, are victims allowed to punch up police?
    'Kampot rovincial police have arrested four Chinese construction workers on suspicion of assaulting two Cambodian traffic police following a traffic dispute on Sunday'.
    However.
    'When contacted on Wednesday, one company representative denied that the arrests had taken place, claiming the workers had merely been summoned for questioning. “They did not arrest people. They just asked them to court for some information,” said Shu Jiang, the deputy managing director of Sinohydro'.
    The answer is if you have good backers, sure go ahead.
  • 'Road deaths rise moderately'.
    That's according to the Ministery of Interior. Though they acknowledge that there may be some differences with other statistics, most notably the RTAVIS. This databank uses the Ministries figures and the Ministry is a partner. It begs the question why there may be a difference ....?
  • More indepth knowledge on how the police works, thanx to EAS. And revealing that the police are using their speedguns:
    'noticed the police had a new 'speed gun' and were pointing it at everyone. Well, the police 100 m onwards, they were aggressively flagging down every old vehicle (never Lexus or Land Crusers) and ours was one.
    ...
    the police only emboldened the police to press charges against him--trumped up. They say they clocked him going 57 in a 55 km/hr speed. Then when they checked his license, they showed it was paper and not plastic (who knows what was right?). [a.: obviously the police do] ... I noticed at least 25 cars flagged down to the similar marked 'lane' where everyone simply handed out some notes and went on'.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chasing Cars, October 15 2009

Not much to mention. Seems nothing worthwhile is happening maybe it's just me getting jaded. Oh yeah I could celebrate this being four years of blogging, having nearly 10,000 visitors or this being the 376th posting. But I won't.

  • My only competitor in this blogging world, the Road Safety Awareness blog, increasingly focus on reporting accident reports and pics from Khmer language newspapers. That might be a good lifelong strategy, no shortage of those. I, for one are going to call it quits after 5 years and then wait for history to catch up with the uniqueness of this blog ...
  • Road repairs in action in Siem Reap reported by Cambodia Calling. Since the great flood of the town the roadworks would have been futile anyway. Why is her site also not coming with new blog entries?
  • The Cambodian skies are abuzz with confusing static. Story goes as follows: SRA, daughter comapny of BKK Air flies the only national route. Loses license temporarily last year, BKK Air takes over. CAA created, owned by the gov., starts flying, making lots of loses. BKK Air told to take a hike. Announces return of SRA, but gov. has doubts. To be continued.
  • As well as the opening of already finished airport.
    'State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) Secretary of State Mao Havannal said Tuesday that long-awaited upgrades to the coastal resort’s sole airport had been completed by Societe Concessionnaire des Aeroports (SCA), which also operates airports in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. “I went to check all the technical equipment last Friday,” he said. “Everything is in place and complies with international standards.”'
    So if something goes wrong, we know to blame!
  • Toll roads exist.
    'Local representative Van Savy said that seven illegal checkpoints were operating along the 15 kilometres of road passing through the district. “Each checkpoint will demand five or six thousand riels from anyone transporting firewood or charcoal,” he said, adding that the “tolls” were especially tough on the area’s mostly poor residents.
    ...
    These men aren’t confiscating illegal goods or stopping crimes'.
    Is deforesting the forests not a crime?
  • Above report refuted!
    'District Deputy Governor Ham Sam Ang dismissed residents’ claims, saying rumours of illegal checkpoints were baseless. “I went to a place last week that supposedly had illegal checkpoints, but I didn’t see anything,” he said'.
    But the question was whether he driving a moto packed with charcoal?
  • 'Workers' [whose not a worker?] in Kampot have the solution to police checks.
    'Phlang Phearin, the Kampot provincial police chief, said Tuesday that a fight broke out when the two traffic police stopped a truck carrying Chinese workers from the Kamchay hydropower dam in the province’s Teuk Chhou district. After phoning more workers, the police were beaten up and the suspects fled, he said.
    ...
    Shu Jiang, Sinohydro’s deputy managing director, admitted workers from his company had been involved in the incident but said there was probably more to the story.
    “My workers attacked the policemen, but there was some reason, I think,” he said. “I don’t know – maybe the police asked for money, and the workers didn’t want to give it.”
  • Though it's well known that you now need a helmet, mirrors and wear a seatbelt, did you know that drunk driving and speeding is also being cracked down on?
    'In Phnom Penh alone, between August and October, 1,172 drivers were caught speeding, and 682 were caught driving under the influence of alcohol, official data show'.
    Between August and October means September? But aside from that how on earth has this taken place without anybody experiencing this?
  • Lots of news on the capsizing of a 'ferry', though in actuality what's meant is a larger boat used for cross-river transport. Seventeen died. Sit.:
    'crammed onto the 8-metre-long boat.
    ...
    Roughly 30 passengers were thought to be on the ferry, which officials
    said was made to carry 20 people, when it sank in heavy rain Saturday night after those on board panicked.
    ...
    Blame for the ferry disaster has been liberally thrown around. An employee of the boat owner who survived the sinking previously said that passengers insisted on cramming onto the 8-metre-long vessel Saturday evening, even though it was clearly overloaded. Cambodian ferry operators had previously been ordered to equip their vessels with safety equipment, such as life vests, said Ung Chun Huor, director general in the Transportation Department at the Ministry of Public Works. Implementation, however, is another matter'.
    So is doing your work.
  • Let's focus on the poor forum moderator of Expat Advisory Services. He makes a tirade about poor parking. Though he virtually could have mentioned any successful bizniz in town, instead he decided to take on just one or two. Unfortunately they are verbally able to defend themseleves and he now finds himself in a pickle.
    'Bloody Hell'
    He mentions two schools, picks on one, because his daughter goes to the other.
  • Subtitle to the photo below (original from AFP):
    'A fleet of cyclo drivers transport Buddhist paraphernalia, somewhat precariously, for sale at a market in Phnom Penh on Wednesday'.
    Is this description not condescending to Budhist religion?
  • And for something different. All theme press guys complaining about us ripping off their rags. Vuthasurf finds his blog entry on the front page with no reference, let alone some compo. Then totally unrelated he has blog entries on how hard it is to make money from blogs in Cambodia .. Now why didn't he shake the tree first?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chasing Cars, September 28, 2009

A tellingly short item in the Phnom Penh Post mentioned that the 'traffic crackdown ends'. Why would that be the case? Because P'Chum Ben is now behind us and there's not much demand for fining poor traffic users? However it's simply the confiscating that is being discontinue:
'Him Yan, deputy director of the Department of Public Order of the National Police Station, said:“We notice that our [confiscation] campaign has been very successful because nearly 90 percent of the population now understand and abide by the traffic laws. So we think it is time we started fining [again].”
Well the fact that fining continues (observed yesterday) as well as this statement seem to contradict the article heading. One wonders though if such a high official can claim that 90% understand and abide to the traffic rules. Surely he means just the couple of rules being enforced. There's still a long way to go
  • More (or less) on official comprehension. Bangkok Airways which has been flying between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh for the past year have been told to clear off. The Phnom Penh Post mentioned on Friday (25 Sept. 2009) that it was due to commercial reasons, i.e. to protect the governments own air line, howevr today's rag as well as Saturdays Cambodia Daily mention that Siem Reap Airways will start to fly again. Who knows? Thailand's Nation while reporting on the same mentions that Phnom Penh is serviced by JAL and Qatar
  • Accidents happen. In the middle of town. Outside some of Phnom Penh's more popular nite spots. So no surprise that the Khmer 440 has an extensive thread on this accident. The gis: Camry rams tuk-tuk (and kills chauffeur), wacks some parked bikes and ends up stuck. Driver was arrested would you believe, car was later demolished by spectators. Driver not well connected to get off the hook.

Another bus ride. According to Cambodia Daily (26 Sept '09), bus was on the wrong side of the road, wacks moto (of a police official) and ends up besides the road. Driver disappears. This and more on long distance bus stops on Khmer 440.
  • Tourist trapping? Yet again a focus on riding Cambodia's decrepit rails:
    'Hop on Cambodia's (very) light railway'.
    Why not?
    'I ask my guide, Thy Racky, if anyone is ever injured. He says six tourists were hospitalised last year when their bamboo train hit a bump and flipped off its wheels'.
    It's also deadly boring.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chasing Cars, pre-P'Chum Ben 2009

With just a few days to go before P'Chum Ben kicks off, law enforcement seems to be stricter than ever before. I have heard from drivers getting fined (though at unofficial rates) for dodging red lights and not wearing seat belts. Yesterday authorities even had the audacity to apprehend moto's driving the wrong way up street 63! Just goes to show how a little financial incentive can kick-start traffic police into laying down the law ....

'Motorists and pedestrians last week make their way through flood-soaked streets in Phnom Penh' (Phnom Penh Post, 14 Sept., 2009).
  • Details are Sketchy also refers to the photo of Cambo's PM moto-ing around Kampot, finding the photo all the way over at news.motorbiker.org and repeating the comment on the need to fasten the helmet straps. However the law in Cambodia goes as follows: Chapter III, Art. 9:
    '4. The drivers who drive motorcycles, tricycles and the motorcycles with trailers / remorque must wear safety helmets'.
    It doesn't stipulate anything about how it should be fastened or what actually constitutes a safety helmet. The same article also mentions that driving and using mobile phones is not allowed, now there's a potential money spinner ....
  • Continuing with the PM, he now has told transport firms not to overload so as to protect bridges and road surfaces. He also highlighted the problem of corruption in meeting this.
    'He [the PM] noted that the ministries concerned would also need to take account of low-level corruption, saying that simply weighing trucks would not be sufficient, as drivers could avoid the measure by giving money to officials'.
    Seems a bit unfair if high level corruption is allowed to prevent the lower echelons from earning a little extra.
Khmer 440.com September Caption contest 2. My favourite:
'Bus driver: We can still make it. First we stop here for nyum bai'.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chasing cars in the rain

Photo opportunities for the press are far and few between in Cambodia. Mostly the Cambodian PM is pictured rambling on any old folklore tale (when will be the next time war will break out?) while standing in front of a gathering of tired looking officials who only turned up for the following free lunch. Seldom is he caught outside these plush venue's.

But a flood in the coastal town of Kampot provided the opportunity for some great photo's. The following photo shows a PM on moto ('Sir, sir! Yes?'). With wing mirrors and a helmet on. Just wonder whether or not he has his license on him ...
(Source: Reuters via KI Media).

Other than that not much to mention.
  • Moto taxes were to go down but aren't.
    'Prime Minister Hun Sen announced in June that he wanted officials in every province to collect all appropriate fees and taxes in accordance with the Land Traffic Law'.
    The key word is appropriate. What is appropriate?
    'Authorities have dropped fees from $250 to $100 and then to $60, depending on the type of motorbike'.
    The protestors are holding out for $0.
  • Khmer 440 forum has a debate on how much to pay moto's. Problem solved:
    'I always pay a dollar no matter how far or near. I don't know the place of your residence, but one dollars is my standard fare. I know others pay less but I have always paid one dollar a ride for the past 7 years'.
    At least he's clear.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Chasing cars, 3-9-09

Heavy rain has been coming down for the past 4-5 days rendering much of Phnom Penh's infrastructure unusable, at least during the rains themselves. Holes are re-appearing in the street and poor roads are now getting a wash out, take care. What is known as the only flood map of the city, discussed on Khmer 440 has seen added comments 2 years after the original. An update is apparently underway ....
  • Enforcing the law. The police claim now to have (temporarily) confiscated nearly 100,000 vehicles! Quite a feat. What's more surprising is that over 1% of this vehicles remain unclaimed, can't believe it myself.
  • Discussion on Khmer 440 also involves comments saying the traffic situation is changing slowly for the better. Crossing Cambodia is yet to see itself as do others, though 2 from members reporting a 'Hummer' giving way! Response:
    'Yeah I know the Hummer guy. Don't get your hopes too high quite yet. His maid's on vacation in the province and he doesn't want to wash off the blood and bones fragments by himself so he's taking it easy this week.
    She's back next sunday and he'll hit the road (and the rest of us) with a vengeance'.
    That's more like it ....
  • Anyway according to a report of the Traffic Police
    '299 tourists were involved in road accidents in Cambodia in the first half of 2009, compared with just 168 in the first half of 2008'.
    During that period there were less tourists, so have all of sudden the farang turned into bad drivers? The report has no answers. Why target transport companies for tourist?
    '"It is really very bad for our tourism sector when tourists die in road accidents here," said Sem Psnha Vuth, victim and road accident information controller. "Visitors who see road accidents will be shocked."
    What about the 'common people'? Not so bad?
  • The last CC post entry contained a reference to Phnom Penh Posts interview with a female moto-taxi driver. Apparently they are 'rare', they claim. Funny though that the Globe August edition are able to get an interview with another female moto-dup chauffeur. Copy-cats? Though it may be rare and seen as something special Morn Thida denies this.
    'What challenges do you face as a female motodop?
    To be honest there aren’t that many challenges as the job isn’t difficult.'
    She does note a specialty not often en-counted with moto-dops:
    'Most people, from my experience, would rather I ask than pretend to know where I am going'.
    However the Globe seems to be intend to make Thida feel strange as they insist on asking questions concerning the female element. Thida shrugs them all off. Out of desperation the next to last question is :
    'If you were to marry, do you think your husband would mind your choice of profession?
    I can’t imagine he would mind. If he can find another job for me that pays more, then great, I’ll try that',
    Thida answers. Welcome to the 21st century, Globe!
  • The Globe is also the source of an in-depth article on Cambodia's new airline, Cambodia Angkor Air. Mostly the article points out the promise. This week it also took delivery of an Airbus, so as to expand the number of flights which seems to contradict the dire econmic times. Whether it's the right move remains to be seen:
    'The airline - which launched July 27 - had seen a steady increase in passenger numbers, with an average passenger load of between 30 and 40 percent during the first month of operations, he said, without supplying official data, which he said was not yet available'.
    Considering the prices were $6 on the main internal stretch, the economic logic seems to be far away. A CAA spokesperson:
    ' "For the first few years, we do not expect any profits. We will just promote our carrier and attract customers" '.
    Deep pockets?
  • More past to present info. This time tracks. As expected rail dwellers are not to get much for moving off the rail. The PPP accompanies a brief and boring report with a photo of kids playing on the tracks.
  • Then the traffic on water. More cash is in the offering for a 'port' in Kep so as to enable tourists heading for The former Cambodian island of Phu Coc, again reported by the PPP. A conference center is what is on the cards ...
  • With less tourists, boat companies are clashing in Siem Reap over tourists, so reports the PPP. Background of the 'clashes':
    ' "The Cambodian Association of Travel Agents has no business organising boat tours. They have become involved in order to protect the interests of rich and powerful people," he said'.
    Ah, such is the Khmer republic ...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chasing Cars, 28 August 2009

With the false belief that law is being successfully enforced, after mirrors (not used), safety helmets (saving the motorists from themselves) and licensing (adding more cash to the government coffers), seat belts are now on the radar:
'Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema has instructed municipal officials to begin informing drivers about the importance of wearing seatbelts, adding that those who fail to do so will soon be forced to pay fines under the Land Traffic Law'.
Whatever happened to enforcing the law? How about the multitude of transport craft that ignore stop-lights, drive on the wrong way or park willy-nilly?
The police though see this latest issue as a challenge:
'Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth said car drivers were generally less likely than motorbike drivers to listen to instructions from police officers, though he said police would still work to "educate them about wearing seatbelts".'
Oh, and by the way sidewalk vendors are
also on the way out:
'Over the next two weeks, Phnom Penh municipal authorities say they will attempt to raise awareness of a ban on sidewalk vendors in the run-up to more stringent enforcement of this provision of the Land Traffic Law'.
Keyword attempt.
Anyway this time the excuse is to reduce congestion. My idea is that if you get everyone to adhere to traffic lights, you'll be making great strides, but if enforcing seat belt wearing is challenge then enforcing stopping for a red light might be asking for too much ....


More from Phnom Penh and Cambodia's crazy world of traffic:
  • The Khmer 440 forum continues in much the same vein. The front page article
    'Common sense has lost the building'
    is reposted on the forum and elicits some response.
    In general, it laments how the government can outlaw tuk-tuks from one of Phnom Penh's major boulevards (but by far not the busiest) by arguing that this results in less congestion.
    'The only traffic jams I've seen on Norodom have been at "rush hour", and have been caused by virtually every road user displaying an utter lack of the ability to queue or wait, drifting across lanes, using the wrong approach lane for a right or left turn, joining traffic by creeping toward moving vehicles, and a fair proportion of people driving on the wrong side of the road to avoid said creepers and narrowing the carriageway - particularly at junctions. Surely if I can see that, the planners can too?'.
    Curiously is this message, all too typical of Cambodian law enforcement:
    'A female Khmer friend of mine was pulled over on Norodom last night because her moto mirrors were "too small". They demanded 10,000r or the bike would be impounded'.
    The law states no details concerning the size wing mirrors, it's just a case of petty extortion.
  • Reports in the Phnom Penh Post on riots concerning enforcing (parts of) the traffic law. Apparently motorists are up in arms because they bought moto's on the cheap. Apparently they were illegally imported and now the government is (after decades of neglect) after the import duties.
    '"We did not want to make trouble for the police. We just wanted to send a message to the government to reduce the cost of motor taxes," Vor Vorn said. The demonstrations followed a directive issued earlier this month by Prime Minister Hun Sen ordering provincial police across the Kingdom to collect motor taxes in accordance with Cambodia's Land Traffic Law'.
    Times are a changing it seems, but the protesters may well have a point:
    '... authorities should blame themselves for not cracking down sooner on those who import motorbikes without paying the necessary taxes'.
    KI Media also reports on the 'riots' but from Banteay Meanchey. Here arrest swere made:
    'Two persons were arrested by police after they burnt down car tires and safety helmets'.
    Burning safety helmets is an offense in Cambodia?
  • From the Cambodia Mirror, a report from the local press. Who needs law enforcement when this is the law enforcer?
    '... the driver of the car that rolled over the guard and killed him is Chan Saroeun, a lieutenant-colonel, and deputy chief of staff of the [Phnom Penh] Municipal Police.
    ...
    However, the Prampi Makara district police could not detain him, because he is a high ranking official, and there was an intervention to release him, from a higher level, at that night. Those who knew him said that he is a high ranking official who is responsible for the enforcement of the traffic law'.
    His crime?
    '... a white Chevrolet with number plate 2K-6542 was driving very fast from the crossing at the water storage tower near the Olympic stadium towards the market called Phsar Depou, along the Jawaharlal Nehru road. Near the Atlantic coffee shop and hotel, the driver of the car lost control over it, as another car was driven backwards from that shop, causing that car to avoid it, but hitting a parking guard close by and push him onto the road. After hitting the guard, the offensive car [what about the driver?] did not stop, but accelerated and rolled over the guard and dragged him about 20 meters, and then the car drove away'.
  • A car made in Cambodia, running on solar energy was one of the subjects in the last CC. Now according to KI Media there is a car produced in Cambodia which
    'can open it's doors telepathically'.
    Is this a case of Lost in Translation?
  • Discussion at Expat Advisory concerning begging on the street:
    'the Monivong - Sihanouk intersection. I see kids there every day. I frequently see traffic cops there every day, in the shade near CD World.... Would it be a stretch to suggest the cops move the kids off the street? For their own safety?'
    Answers differ:
    • 'one of them almost gave me a bloody heart attack the other day when it was raining out. kid just popped out of nowhere and stuck his face on my car window. my driver immediately popped the locks and i just felt horrible trying to ignore the boy'.
    ...
    • 'one of the little boys tried to bite me last night as i was walking down sihanouk and refused to give him money/food'.
    ...
    • 'Oh my GOD this intersection is a nightmare! ... he started hitting the baby's head on the handle of my moto!'
    ...
    • 'The worst that happened to me on that corner was the small kid who picked up the rock the size of my fist and threatened me.
      Perhaps we could all march down to mr hun sens house in kandal and have a rally. Provided one takes the props like the huge framed photos of our beloved leader it sometimes produces results'.
    Key word sometimes.
  • The details are sketchy blog has a number of traffic related posts, but mostly with nothing to add. On parking:
    'The man ignored the shop owner’s request to move his vehicle. A stupid move, as he was to find out. (Nobody messes with the Siem Reap Book Centre … is this guy new in town?) Staff at the book shop returned with a piece of wood with nails stuck in it and started slamming the wood into his car'.
  • The roads around Siem Reap, an update posted on the Tales of Asia forum:
    • 'To Anlong Veng from SR, you're looking at about two hours now on a great new stretch of highway. ...
    • the highway is magnificent. SR to Sisophon is about an hour and half or so now. ...
    • a decent drive about 80 km from SR, but the road (especially after a rain) is not for hot-rodding [Koh Ker]'
  • More City Law. Sand and dirt trucks aren't allowed to cross the bridges to enter Phnom Penh. Is there already enough dirt in town?
    '"We think everyone should join with us and respect this new policy in order to reduce the number of road accidents, limit any further damage to municipal bridges and help keep the city clean," he said'.
    Huh? Just makes it more difficult to enter town thus in-official charges will rise to pass. Keep the city clean? Is it clean already then?
  • Filling the newspaper. Phnom Penh Post highlights what is believed to be Phnom Penh's only female moto-taxi. Crossing Cambodia can remember earlier articles on her, but can't find any links. Though the PPP
    'reveals how difficult it is to be a woman in a male-dominated world',
    most of the article reveals nothing whatsoever.
  • It's a well-known fact that due to the poor railway service in Cambodia, peole nearly live on the rails themselves. With an upgrade on the way, the encroachers will be pushed back.
    '"My house will be impacted once they begin clearing away the land 3.5 metres on either side of the tracks," she said. "I am not against this plan, but authorities should think about how to compensate us fairly."
    As it is state owned land in the first place, Crossing Cambodia believes somehow that the line of thought will be a boot up the backside.
  • If all fails, we can always rely on FCC. The problem as described in the Expat Advisory forum:
    'Is it beyond the FCC's abilities to remove these aggressive nuisances [tuk-tuk drivers]?
    ...
    Surely a friendly local policeman could be 'persuaded' to move them to a safe distance?'
    Possibly it is beyond FCC, there are nearly 10-20 guys posted there all day. Friendly local policeman? Surely not available! Answers vary from:
    'smile and say 'No thankyou, I have a driver'
    to
    'I hate the scumbags,they park or double park every where restricting access for pedestrians and those trying to park cars and actually spend money'.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Chasing Cars, mid-August 2009

Imposing the law? According to their own claims
'more than 60,000 vehicles have been temporarily impounded'.
That seems a bit unlikely, even logistically. Lost in translation possibly?
'Hem Ya, deputy chief of the Phnom Penh Police Commissariat, said that vehicles have been held in order to educate owners who break the law. "I think that so far, 80 percent of Cambodian people respect the traffic law" '.
Well, wake up call. If that is respect then come again. Nowhere in Cambodia are 80% of the people respecting the law! On a good day you might see 50-60% wearing helmets nowadays, but that's common sense, it's not respect for the law. Respect for the law is having a license, stopping at stop signs, not cutting off other road users, not running red lights, not driving on the wrong side of the road, not cutting corners, not driving and using phone, etc., etc.


Well, let's hope there's better things to report on this week.
  • Ban the poor souls!
    'I’m sure that it’ll be a great consolation to both tourists and tuk tuk drivers that their ban from Norodom Boulevard in the latest lunatic edict from the madcap and increasingly nagging world of City Hall, will ‘prevent traffic jams.’ As it happens, traffic jams caused by groups of people being efficiently and economically ferried around by tuk tuks happen, in my own humble experience, to be somewhere in the region of nil. Whereas, expats across the blogsphere (myself included), have been banging on for years about the exponential increase in the number of fatass, luxury SUVS blocking up the city’s streets - and something tells me that these black steel panthers may have more of a causal relationship with these traffic jams than the humble tuk tuk. The problem is as clear as a bell to me'.
  • If some readers (and authorities, see above) believe that Phnom Penh is congested, wait til you see Vientiane:
    'A massive increase in new vehicles is giving Vientiane commuters a headache as peak hour traffic snarls affect transportation across the city'.
    The
    Vientiane Times has us believe the Lao capitol is in the same league as Saigon, Djakarta and Bangkok! What distinguishes Vientiane from Phnom Penh is the solution sought:
    'Minister of Public Works and Transport, Mr Sommath Pholsena said his ministry would focus on promoting and improving public transport as a way to address traffic congestion in the capital'.
  • Koh Kong is Cambodia's wild west?
    'The driver swerved and the back end started to slide out. Shards of rock and rubble started bouncing loudly off the under-carriage, people started screaming, but by some small miracle, the driver managed to recover from the swerve and we didnt end up in the dirt ditch at the side of the road, taking a dirt nap. About 150 meters down the road (in the middle of nowhere), I see a gang of young Khmer men waiting on their motorbikes, scrutinising the bus (for damage I’m guessing?) and looking back at the debris from the smashed boulder, a few with very disappointed looks on their faces and a few others laughing their fucking heads off at our near death experience. By the time we got to the border I couldnt help feeling a bit more cynical and wondering how long it would of taken for the bus to get looted if we had of rolled? What's the value of the contents of a tourist bus these days? a couple of hundred dollars per head, 30+ people, $4-5K? A fair days take for a gang of trainee motodups, id say? I wish I could say this is my only bad experience on Cambodian Buses'.
    You mean there are worse?
  • Odd law enforcement in Sihanoukville. The street determines what the license fee shall be.
    'According to a representative of the drivers, the temporary solution provided by provincial office was that motorcycles not bearing any license plate will not be confiscated'.
    The same in Banteay Meanchey? And what are we talking about?
    'a deputy provincial governor, warned that officials would not be able to reduce the fee, which could be as high as $200. "If we were to reduce it, it would have too large an impact on the national budget," he said'.
    The national budget in ruins? Is there a national budget?
  • A non-report?
    'Prices at petrol stations climbed about 3 percent Wednesday, despite calls last week from Prime Minister Hun Sen for lower fuel costs, and petroleum officials said additional price spikes should be expected as world oil prices rise'.
    The PM can obliterate the opposition within 2 hours (he claims) but imposing the law on all is difficult as well as getting petrol companies to abstain from making a profit! Met his match?
  • The National Road Safety Committee claims that traffic injuries are dropping in Phnom Penh. The Phnom Penh Post copies these claims.
    'Traffic injuries in Phnom Penh decreased by 55 percent from May 2008 to May 2009'.
    55% is a low! But he! Crossing Cambodia swept through the May 2008 and May 2009 reports. Causalities in May 2008 in Phnom Penh: 139 (source (PDF)). May 2009: 219 (source). An increase of 57%! That's just plain poor reporting.
    'Though crashes and total casualties in Cambodia decreased compared with May 2008 by 13 percent each, fatalities saw a 12 percent increase'.
    The reason for this drop in casualties?
    'Ung Chun Hour, director of the NSRC, said that enforcement of the Land Traffic Law - which requires motorbike drivers to wear helmets, among other regulations - is the most likely source of this decline in road injuries'.
    Get real, the probable cause is poor reporting. Dying on the road is increasing despite more helmets, that's the message.
  • Headline from KI Media which must have come as a rude wake up call for the Cambodian government: New Railroads cost Money! An odd comment from an Australian business person:
    'it certainly will increase traffic on the rails because road transport as we know is very expensive and considerably dangerous, considering the safety aspects on the roads here," Mayes said'.
    The Phnom Penh Post (18 August 2009) might have a solution, by way of the magical words
    'additional funding'.
    ADB Daydreaming:
    ' "It makes Cambodia the hub of transportation between China and Singapore, and you would have a port link, you would have a link to Thailand, you'll have a link through to Vietnam, and the implications for that, for Cambodia in the region, are that Cambodia becomes the hub".'
    A port and a rail road mean nothing.
Law enforcement at night, a novelty? 'Drink and drive enforcement'

  • Seldom are we treated to the details of a traffic accident. Apparently if the victim is a relative of someone important then that changes things.
    'Yont Thauron, the son of Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Yont Tharo, was shot after his car was involved in a minor traffic accident while returning from a wedding'.
    Though not necessarily packed with details, the Khmer 440 Forum for once provides us with more:
    'From the unsubstantiated rumour department...we took a tuk-tuk last night near the monument and the word according to him was that some rich guy's kid had a minor scrape with a moto around the Monument. The moto was at fault, apologized and swore he'd pay for the damage (how, who knows?). But the kid told him he'd pay at the hospital in blood after he was done kicking the crap out of him. Whereupon the moto guy pulled a gun and shot him'.
    Just a rumuor. It does appear there are different versions of the same story. Phnom Penh Post:
    'Witnesses at the crime scene said that after the traffic accident, Yont Thauron and his friends exited their vehicle and ordered the motorbike drivers around them to kneel down and apologise, leading to a furious argument'.
    Anyway the eventualities are clear, 1 dead, a couple of wounded and 1 poster banned from Khmer 440 forum. Will we ever find out the truth?
    'I'm not saying that the stories aren't true, I do not know if they are or if they aren't, but it just doesn't sound like him. Again, thank you everybody for you condolences'.
  • Humour from NZ:
    'Mel writes: "Just before our departure - for the practical test of my full driver's licence - the instructor asked me to test the horn to make sure it worked. Knowing full well that the horn did not work, I turned my head to the right and let out a vocal 'hooonk'. He replied, unconvinced, 'What was that?' I told him it was my car's horn. He dryly noted that he hoped my driving was better than my honking ... I passed no problem."
    Probably would not get a pass in Cambodia; tsss... a car with no horn!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Chasing Cars. What? It's August already?

Skipped a months worth of posting so you might expect a lot to have happened in the meantime, which in a sense is true, though it's not so obvious. So let's get started:

In the past month the local strongman has been using his power to pressure all those with a differing view. However despite announcing that's he's had enough of the traffic anarchy, controlling the population as a whole is a entirely different thing. The PM thought confiscating all and sundry (i.e. those without side mirrors or moto's without helmet clad drivers) will cower the populace into submission. But alas as always, the enforcers all work once a week and by now everyone is back to the ago-old Cambodian custom of driving hither and nither.

Another important occurence is that the country has it's own airline, called Cambodiaangkorair (CAA for short) which sort of covers the subject. However the Cambodian government owns only half of the part that makes the profit. Problem though is that it's totally controlled by Vietnamese, their aircraft, their crews, so Crossing Cambodia doubts whether it will make a profit. Better to keep the fees high than produce a profit which needs to be shared. Wonder if the bright guys thought of that before?
The CAA route map though looks a bit weak, most flights are between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, how is that to serve the country by generating more passengers? The connecting flights section is actually a copy of Vietnam Airlines flights from Hanoi, to which the new carrier does not fly.
If the Cambodians are really serious they should ask Air Asia or the likes to open up routes to the northeast. With good opportunities in place to Singapore, Malaysia and Bangkok, creating more options to Hanoi (direct flight?), Hong Kong, Taiwan as well as seeking new sources of tourists from South / East China and central Vietnam is what's required. More info, here, here and here.

Subjects with less coverage / importance:
  • Elsewhere tuk-tuks are coming into the spotlight for law enforcement apparently. There are roads and other roads where only tuk-tuks may not drive. Why?
    'They say we are anarchic and cause disorder in the city'.
    If that's the scale to measure, then everyone can start packing! And are they safe?
    'But the presence of tuk-tuks on the roads also adds to the chaos of traffic in Phnom Penh. Their large size makes them difficult to navigate, and some are obviously not built with safety in mind - such as those with very thin metal bars to support their back seats, which can be dangerous for larger passengers. Some tuk-tuks are powered by very weak and old motorbikes that cannot effectively transport heavy passengers and goods, leading to awkward turns that obstruct traffic.
    'Letter to the editor. Nice people?
    'Too many of the drivers aggressively hassle expats and tourists alike, not only with entreaties to take one to the Killing Fields, but also trying to push drugs and prostitution. Many also deliberately obstruct junctions, making it very difficult for pedestrians to make headway'.
    Letter to the editor.
  • Fuel prices are also under investigation ('to reconsider price hike', please).
  • Airport in Sihanoukville to open? Not yet, as Nicolas Sarkozy wants to do it himself, seeing that it was him who made the thing.... ,not. He's expected to arrive in November. No new flights either ...
  • All the law enforcing, has not resulted in less deaths. Cambodian logic:
    'Even though we have breath analysis machines, the number of accidents still increases'.
  • Roads from China? Meant is money from China, roads to ...?
    'The gratitude of the Royal Government and the Cambodian people toward the government of the People’s Republic of China, a great and long term close friend'.
    All the way back to the Khmer Rouge times ....
  • Priceless? Mastercard and Hotel de la Paix are donating push bikes to students in Siem Reap.
  • Road tax to be paid! Vehicles excluded are:
    'ambulances and fire trucks; vehicles belonging to the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, the military police and the police; any vehicles used for national defence or security; and diplomatic or consular vehicles'.
    What's left?
  • Cambodia's car industry takes off!
    'former math and physics teacher from Kampong Chhnang province, uses his knowledge to successfully come up with a solar-energy-powered car'.
  • Expatadvisory's Phnom Penh forum has an article on child beggers on the street:
    'Which brings me to the Monivong - Sihanouk intersection. I see kids there every day. I frequently see traffic cops there every day, in the shade near CD World. ... Would it be a stretch to suggest the cops move the kids off the street? For their own safety?'
  • More from the same forum. This time it's Phnom Penh's biggest mall, which is in for flak:
    'A Khmer friend left her moto & helmet there [Sorya] this week. When she came back they gave her her moto - but not her helmet.'
    The gist:
    'The car park attendants at Sorya are well know thieves'.
    Then the Lucky gets brought into the discussion:
    'The parking system at Lucky Sihanouk is far superior, but I still cringe at being charged to use a supermarket car park'.
    That's what you get when there's no competition ...
  • People say Phnom Penh is safe, others deny, however after dark beware:
    'an English national is in stable condition at Calmette Hospital after being shot twice during a robbery outside his home near Russian Market early Sunday morning. Assailants shot Mark Fitzpatrick, age unknown, in the back and chest and stole his motorbike around 1:30am, according to police'.
    The discussion continues:
    'Don't tell me... this guy got here about six months ago and is calling himself an expat. I've had 3 friends "killed" here since '02. I've had dozens of friends get their motorcycles stolen.
    ...
    Foreigners have been getting knifed, conked over their heads, robbed, drugged, mugged, raped, swindled, shot, for as long as I can recall in Cambodia.'.
    That sort of sums up Phnom Penh's threats.
  • Asialife focuses on Vespa's in Phnom Penh. Only for enthusiasts.
  • Strongman not so in control, blames his underlings for failures:
    'Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen also repeated his previous recommendation to look at the roads. Samdech explained, ‘When I say again to look at the roads, that means: first, there must not be illegal check-points along the roads, and second, if the road is damaged, it must be repaired'.
  • Kampot is getting sidewalks, according to Stan:
    'the riverside greenstrip is being completely redone. It compares favorably to its seedy, unkempt, grassy past, but it’s really not to my taste, since it’s nearly all pavement. The paving blocks are very nice and since there is no sidewalk on the river side of the street it’ll definitely come in handy for walkers.
    In practice, many people will probably continue walking in the street purely out of habit. I was at an outdoor table on Sisowath recently and saw a lot of people walking on the street even though the sidewalk was largely clear and usable. Some, the Barangs especially, seemed very uncomfortable with vehicles passing by them so closely and sometimes speedily but still didn’t think to move over to the sidewalk. I guess people have become so used to walking in the street the sidewalk just didn’t occur to them'.
    He also reveals why there are disabled ramps were built on Norodom:
    'Norodom, in fact, has gotten a lot worse with the disabled ramps that were recently installed. Now motorbikes have an easy way to use the sidewalk to avoid heavy traffic. They’ll come right at you expecting you to move out of their way. Hey Dude! This is the sidewalk UNDERSTAND - so have a little respect. I can definitely see the importance of society being more conscious of the needs of the handicapped, but in this case it didn’t work out very well, especially since it’s hardly ever used by the people it was intended to serve'.
    All in all a great entry on transportation in Cambodia.
  • With the railways nearing complete dereliction, it's astounding that there is still freight getting moved, though with a downward trend.
  • Car dealers are also feeling the pinch. The good news:
    'I am not that negative about the economy. As long as people have food to eat, there will be demand for cars.'
    Let's hope there will be no famine then.
  • Haze? Here in Phnom Penh?
    'Have you ever wondered how much time gets knocked off your life expectancy when you're stuck in Phnom Penh traffic, behind an antiquated truck spewing thick, black smoke into your face?'
    Find the answer in this Phnom Penh Post article.
Related Posts with Thumbnails