Crossing Cambodia

Monday, March 02, 2009

Chasing Cars, 1 March 2009

Followers (why has no-one registered Crossing Cambodia as to be followed?) of this blog may have been wondering what's happening. So have I!

To tell you the truth not much at all is happening. Being the first of March, one would have expected that the men in blue would have brought Phnom Penh under helmets by now, but that point is slowly slipping away. Crossing Cambodia estimates that helmet wearing has dropped from 80-90% to just 50-70%. This despite the more than usual coppers on the road trying to stop anyone vaguely offending some kind of rule. That's unless, like last Saturday, the offender was wearing an army cap (and no helmet). We're not going to stop him!
  • But it's good to see something else pop up on the agenda. Once more. Now two years overdue.
    'National Police Chief Neth Savoeun has ordered police across the country to start punishing, as of May, any civilians or low-ranking police or army officers whose vehicles bear police or military licence plates.
    The crackdown would also apply to vehicles with no plates at all, he added'.
    Wish them luck. But as it is 2 weeks later, nothing to be seen! '
    She [Mu Sochua, opposition spokesperson] said an earnest effort to enforce the law, not more stern words about it, was needed. She added that a real crackdown on illegally procured plates was "beyond" the National Police chief, given how pervasive the practice has become'.
    Nearly everything is pervasive in Cambodia.
  • Next up were
    'the motorbikes pulling overloaded trailers'
    The reason:
    '"We do not allow big motorbikes to tow trailers into the city because it causes traffic jams and makes the city look messy and disorderly," said Chav Hak, deputy chief of the Phnom Penh Municipal Traffic Police'.
    Subjectivity at it's best. Put more bluntly, these guys are so unpowerful we can easily cash in on them! An offender:
    "We have spent more than 30,000 riels ($7.27) at police checkpoints along the national road from Kampong Speu to Phnom Penh," he said. "Look at the police. They are not skinny. We work hard, but we are still very skinny."
  • Odd for a city where taxi's are nowhere to be found. Phnom Penh is mentioned in a list of cities where to avoid taxi's. That can't be too difficult then!
    'Therefore, we recommend making alternative travel arrangements in the following areas!'
    First in a unlisted list is Phnom Penh:
    'Phnom Penh is a friendly [compared to what?] and laid back tourist destination, but hailing a taxi is an experience you won’t particularly enjoy [because there are none?]. You won’t have as much trouble getting a taxi as you will getting rid of your driver once you reach your destination. Many drivers insist on becoming your personal tour guide, of course collecting fares for each destination they deliver you to along the way. Before you head to Cambodia ask your travel agent to recommend a few good transportation companies or you might want to try a rickshaw. You can easily hire a driver for an entire day for a minimal cost and without the scary stalker experience'.
    Load of ****. My own list would most certainly include Kuala Lumpur where the taxi-folk are 50/50 aforementioned word. Impolite, rude, greedy and simply obnoxious quite a few are the rotten apples there. Elsewhere? Bali, Singapore, Bangkok, Vientiane, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Chiang Mai are all ok, Kathmandu might be slightly iffy.
  • Competition on the horizon? A 27 year old male propably working for Handicap Internbational has set up his own blog. And publishes statistics and the odd (uncited) article from the news concerning traffic safety in Cambodia. Looks pretty boring as there is no personal touch. And plays it safe! Ha! What's wrong with criticizing the Cambo officials?
  • From the SE Globe:
    'Let’s be blunt. Phnom Penh isn't friendly to pedestrians. SUVs roar down potholed streets, horns screaming as pedestrians and motos scurry for cover. These “connected” drivers don’t need licence plates and the police don’t seem to car'.
    A nice readable article, a bit utopian here and there, but if one can't dream, what then?
    'Traffic engineers refer to three “Es”: engineering, education and enforcement. Engineering has been discussed, but education and enforcement remain. That’s why the government works with groups such as HIB. It has given the police 100 global positioning system (GPS) detectors so they can gather data about traffic accident trends. By mapping them, they can see the most dangerous zones for pedestrians and vehicles, said Sem Panhavuth of HIB. It’s a small step in the right direction. Pedestrian safety is paramount in a city that aspires to a higher world ranking than given it by National Geographic magazine and values its tourist industry. One conspicuous sign of prosperity is not traffic density but the recognition that grace and architectural beauty are better seen at walking pace'.
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