Crossing Cambodia

Friday, March 20, 2009

Well, avid followers of this blog will have noticed how much effort Crossing Cambodia puts on law enforcement and the farcical situation we tend to take as normal here in Phnom Penh and in Cambodia in general.

Head injuries are 1 of the most serious types of injuries and are a major cause of traffic deaths here in Cambodia. Nothing more seems futile then losing life because of driving on a moto without a helmet. There is near universal acceptance of this and such is the case that nearly everywhere in the world wearing helmets on moto's is compulsory. Even in Vietnam. The New Yorker last month reported on Vietnam and helmets:
'hospitals across the country are reporting up to thirty per cent declines in head injuries'.
Despite Cambodia having a law which stipulates this regulation, this was only enforced as of 1 January 2009. Back then, Crossing Cambodia reported that by the end of January 80% were wearing helmets. But in CC's last post, CC estimated that 50-60% were now wearing a helmet and as such the law enforcement was once again a belly-flop.

Confirmation of these figures came from yesterdays ( March 19, 2009) Phnom Penh Post:
'Tin Prasoer [Head of Phnom Penh's Traffic Police] said that roughly 70 percent of motorbike drivers had complied with the law during the first few weeks of the year. He said that number had since fallen to 60 percent'.
Science! But why the drop?

"I have a seen a decrease in drivers wearing helmets because people respect the law only for a short time," he said.

"But that does not mean we will stop enforcing the law. We are still strongly enforcing the law and explaining to drivers the importance of wearing helmets."
Lack of respect for the law? (Cough, cough). But isn't disrespect for the law a quintessential element of Cambodia's society? Everybody, but the very poor, are highly involved in bending the law for their own convenience! So how could the police expect that this would be different in this case?
The second line does show the men in blue up. If helmet wearing is down, then this is due to lax law enforcement; i.e. these guys are not doing their work well.

The article then continues with the customary comment from civil society:
'Though she said she believed traffic police officers were "working very hard", Sam Socheata [of Handicap International Belgium] called on them to "enforce the law on all the roads in Phnom Penh"'.
Talking in a vacuum!

Finally the article states:
'According to a Handicap International survey, the percentage of motorbike drivers wearing helmets increased from 24 percent to 52 percent between July 2008 and February 2009, a jump Sam Socheata said could be largely attributed to the helmet law'.
For a so-called expert this sound byte seems incorrect. There is no such thing as a helmet law. Just a traffic law, two years old, feebly enforced.
Related Posts with Thumbnails