Crossing Cambodia

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chasing Cars, 10 February 2008

Despite heavy presence of police on Phnom Penh's roads, helmet wearing seems to be going out of vogue. Crossing Cambodia's own observations are close to 80%, 10% down off January's figures.
  • Has everybody noticed how stories are all cut and pasted from the Phnom Penh Post nowadays? This much to the detriment of Cambodia Daily which also seems out of vogue as a source of news.
    On the Khmer 440 forum site they simply snap and paste a photo of a Cambodia Daily article.
    'Singers Daughter accused in Hit and Run'
    Quite a unique case, as nearly always the culprit escapes, let alone is pursued and shot at by police and brought to justice. Result: culprit must pay and is leaned on by law and justice authorities. Also check out the comments added on the forum, seems like the traffic police are busy ...
  • More from the same forum, this time on parking agents or are they security guards?
    Every respecting business in Phnom Penh retains the right to use the sidewalk in front of the business as private parking area, even CC's hairdresser! Donned out in an official looking uniform they assist parking the vehicles and expect a bit of tea money when you leave. But how much? All the answers in this thread.
  • Phnom Penh is to get it's first flyover near the Monivong bridge, where the flyover will ensure that the PM can pass the snarled up traffic en route to his office. Funny thing is that the drawings seem to indicate that certain traffic (east from Monivong to north Norodom) will not be allowed anymore. Let's just see how this works out. The municipality are already looking into the feasibility of another 'sky bridge' as they say.
  • Letters to the Phnom Penh Post Editor:
    'Driving on Phnom Penh's roads is quite confusing. This does not mean there are no road signs, traffic lights or police instructions. It means that road users do not respect one another's rights - most usually compete with each other for space on the roads.
    Car and motorbike drivers are the two dominant competitors. It is common to see them using the wrong lanes. They cross each other's lanes and never care about their position on the road, meaning motorbikes are in car lanes and vice versa. But the worst case is when cars and motorbikes take over pedestrian routes. This causes confusion among pedestrians and drivers, and accidents are usually caused due to disrespect for the rights of pedestrians.
    Cyclists and pedestrians are the losers in this road competition often because cyclists do not have their own lanes. They usually use the same routes as their fellow motorbike or car drivers. This has created an environment in which riding a bicycle is difficult and dangerous, and for pedestrians it is even harder. They are often forced to walk on streets where traffic is heavy. Drivers blow their horns at them to move out of the way, but sometimes they are hit.
    Pedestrian paths are stolen by house and shop owners along our roads. These owners usually block the pedestrian's path with their personal business, such as their parked vehicles or expanded shopfront. Sometimes they even claim the road in front of their houses as their own property, banning everyone from parking vehicles.
    As long as people compete for road space and continue to disrespect traffic laws, we will all be losers. Clearly, no one benefits when faced with traffic accidents.
    People need to know their rights on the road, but if they don't then the authorities need to step in. The recent helmet safety campaign is a good example of intervention by the authorities.
    Meas Bunly, Phnom Penh'.
    A good example, but will they follow through?
  • And more compliments to Phnom Penh authorities:
    'Dear Editor,
    I totally agree with Matthew Robinson (The Phnom Penh Post, Letters to the Editor, January 22) about the removal of the chairs and tables from the riverside - Sisowath Quay.
    Whose bright idea was this? Much of the charm has disappeared and I suspect many people, including me, will go for an outdoor drink or bite to eat in another area where we are not forced to sit indoors now at some of our favorite spots.
    All those beautiful palm trees in front of the Bougainvillier Hotel gone, as well as easy access to many menus. Now you have to go inside to look at most of them.
    Have the police been around to check on the cars parked right across one's path, or seen the many motos that now fill the spaces left vacant by street sellers? This morning I even saw a tuk-tuk parked on the sidewalk. Nice change!
    Michael Sharpe, Phnom Penh'.
  • Stan Kahn reports on a section of Highway 3:
    'Kamchey Dam, being built by a Chinese company upriver from Kampot on the edge of Bokor Park, is proceeding apace along with the destruction of most of the road to Teuk Chou rapids and sizable chunks of National Highway 3. The culprit is the use of very heavy trucks for construction materials. It’s too bad they couldn’t find the rock fill they need closer because a good 20 kms of road is under attack'.
  • In Vientiane, Lao they have also problems with parking, the Vientiane Times reports. But they also have solutions:
    'Several car parks are under construction in Vientiane and when completed will go some way towards addressing the parking problem in the city'.
    They also acknowledge that there is still some way to go:
    'However, a major challenge is that vehicle owners ignore allocated parking areas because they don't want to walk any distance to reach their destination'.
  • Fining cars is illegal?
    'Cars carrying more than the legal limit of five passengers are being fined at checkpoints in Battambang province, which drivers claim is illegal'.
    If something is illegal then fining the culprits is um .... fine?
    Not so apparently according to this Phnom Penh Post.
    'Prime Minister Hun Sen had ordered checkpoints in the provinces be shut down'.
    The police claim they are right, however
    'Hun Sen last week threatened to sack any governors or officials whose provinces have illegal checkpoints'.
    One plus one is not two?
  • Finally a couple of pics Crossing Cambodia received via email. Crap happens, luckily Cambodia's emergency services are out in force. Drive safely!

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