- A number of bigwigs were in town, time for a city clean up:
'Police say the roundup was part of a campaign to clear the streets of drivers who sleep in their tuk-tuks'.Phnom Penh Post 26-05.
It 'angers' the tuk-tuk drivers:
'The majority of the 34 tuk-tuks confiscated during the street sweeps ahead of last month's ASEAN-EU meeting have been returned, but drivers claim unfair restrictions have been placed on them by Phnom Penh police, which, they say, put their livelihoods in jeopardy'.
But in order to have their vehicles returned to them, tuk-tuk drivers say they have been forced to sign a contract saying they will not drive on Daun Penh district's three main roads - the popular tourist streets of Sisowath Quay and Norodom and Sothearos boulevards'.A tuk-tuk driver
'had to pay US$55 to the police in order to retrieve his vehicle'.Law enforcement Cambo-style: No offence committed!'
- How to build a tuk-tuk? The PPP interviews an entrepreneur:
' "I noticed in 1998 that my country was not making any tuk-tuks.
The factory builds about 10 units per month, which sell for between $500 and $550. Each tuk-tuk takes 3-4 days to finish, and most of the raw materials are imported from Vietnam, including welding machines, dying machines, metal cutters, cast iron machines and chisels.
But even Tuk Tuk Craft is not immune to a global financial meltdown that started thousands of miles away, and Loun Vanna estimates sales have dropped 30 to 40 percent since late 2008'.
- Harking back on the last issue of 'Chasing cars', a letter to the editor of the Phnom Penh Post (26 May 2009):
'Regarding the article "PM presses for bike seizures" (May 21, 2009), the police could be empowered to seize and confiscate motorbikes without side mirrors and drivers without helmets under a Land Traffic Law amendment proposed by Prime Minister Hun Sen.At the moment, we can see that officials at police posts on our streets and boulevards don't all have their proper identity numbers or uniforms. Rather, they seem more intent on pulling over motorbikes and collecting "fines". Perhaps officials think that these "guilty" fines from motorbike drivers will enhance the national income in some positive way.
Another inequity committed by traffic police is their attempts to fine foreigners at a much more exorbitant rate. My foreign friends say traffic police regularly attempt to extract fines of between US$5 and $20. But Cambodia's traffic laws do not establish one rate for Cambodians and another for foreigners. All drivers, regardless of nationality, are legally obligated to pay only between 3,000 riels and 6,000 riels for motorbike infractions'.
- More law enforcement issues:
'A municipal order that went into effect Monday requires motorbike passengers to wear helmets, although the Land Traffic Law does not stipulate that helmetless passengers can be fined.Funny, though despite all this noise, still less than 2/3 of all drivers wear helmets. Personally Crossing Cambodia believes that it is a heavy core group of traffic offenders: most people driving up the wrong way on a one-way street are exactly those without helmets!
Ty Nath, a 40-year-old motorbike driver, said Monday that he was forced to pay 50,000 riels (about $12) after officers caught him driving without a helmet near Central Market. His two passengers weren't wearing helmets either. He said the police did not bother to explain the specifics of the law or the municipal order. "They just told me the fine was a compromise," he said before the officers returned and interrupted an interview'.
- A big event: the opening of a bridge. The city was locked off to the south-west just for a ceremony; the lock off was more than 12 hours. People failed to show up at work, my maid couldn't make it to a funeral. Anyway, commuters there who thought their worries were over, at nearly the exact same place, the ground work has started for a fly-over. Though the PM stated that the fly-over is:
'to ease traffic congestion in the capital'.The city govenor associates the fly-over with the need to:
'help to eliminate poverty'.Huh?
- Despite all the hoopla for the bridge, another first goes unnoticed:
'Cambodia will have its first taxiway next month in Phnom Penh International Airport, a path that connects the runway to where airplanes park to increase the flight capacity of the airport, local media reported on Friday'.More curiously the Phnom Penh airport officials see the light at the end of the tunnel:
'Currently, only 10 passenger planes can land or take off in an hour from the airfield at Phnom Penh's airport, said Sok Puth Thoeun, director of the airport's engineering department. That will jump to at least 16 planes with the planned taxiway'.
- More in-flight information. In the never ending saga of a flag carrier, Vietnam Airlines are taking over the Cambodian skies. Beware however they are just servicing Sihanoukville. Is that's what expected of a flag carrier? Anyway it's all top-secret according to the Phnom Penh Post:
'Ownership of the national carrier is a closely guarded secret. Aom Chenda, an information official at the Council of Ministers, told the Post Tuesday that Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An told a Vietnamese oil company delegation Monday that a new national carrier would make its maiden flight July 18.Pity for the Indonesians who had been awarded the possibilty to undertake this. And for their Cambo henchmen!
He repeated the comment to reporters following the meeting but did not disclose who owned the airline, saying only that it was a local company. He also told the reporters the maiden flight would be July 17, contradicting the earlier statement.
Meanwhile, Mau Havannal, secretary of state at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), said Tuesday said that an "anonymous private local company" was preparing documents to apply to run flights out of Kang Keng Airport but that no official application had been received. "We do not know who owns the national carrier because it has not been named yet," he said. Chea Aun, director general of the SSCA, confirmed that the "private local company" would use French-made ATR planes'.
- Anyway it's going to be a difficult start. Air arrivals dip 16% in the first four months of this year. An article in yet again the PPP with an unintentional (?) shot of Vietnam Airlines aircraft. Citation of the week:
"We think that the decrease is not only a problem in Cambodia but it is a worldwide concern, and we hope that the problem will improve soon," he [Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents] said'.So do we, so do we .... Let's all hope together, then it might just go away!
- Why the new flag carrier would fly PP - Sihanoukville beats Crossing Cambodia: it's such a short distance and you'll face considerable inconvenience once in Sihanoukville. Anyway, despite the airport there being inconvenienced for a couple years there seems to be an urgency to get their act together. Unfortunately at the cost of villagers surrounding the airport.
'families facing eviction said they haven't been offered any compensation since the airport expansion plans were announced in 2006'.The current urgency:
'The airport expansion may become more pressing as progress is made towards a new national carrier. According to Mau Havannal, secretary of state at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, an "anonymous private local company" was preparing documents to apply to run flights out of Kang Keng Airport'.
- A pleasant surprise on the Phnom Penh roads has been the disappearance of police and army license plates. Police are behind this:
'Chao Phirun [army spokesperson] said Hun Sen's April 30 speech and subsequent warnings had prompted 90 percent of violators to remove their unauthorised military plates'.Now they just ride around without license plates.
- Accidents are going down, apparently. PPP:
'The number of people involved in road accidents in Phnom Penh fell by 32 percent in February compared with the previous month, the Cambodia Road Traffic Accident and Victim Information System (RTAVIS) said in its most recent report'.Cambo Daily:
'The number of traffic casualties in February the most recent month for which data are available dropped 10 percent around the country compared to the same period last year'.Now the why? Cambo Daily again:
'attributed the drop to Chinese New Year celebrations taking place in January and not February this year'.
- The Road Safety Awareness in Cambodia blog is slowly becoming someone's daily (paid) job. Though it echo's this blog to some degree, it fails to note the context. Lately it's been including lots of pics of accidents swiped from Cambodian language web sites. Have fun!
- Innovative ideas from around the world. We've had the sponsored pothole patches. This time in Canada, a slightly different twist of the same theme:
'People in a small town in Western Canada are so fed up with the rotten state of their main road that they came up with an unusual form of protest - a calendar that shows them posing nude in the potholes'.Pity people here are not so in to calenders.
This weekend is also another good cause, pro bicycles, anti gas guzzlers. It's the World Naked Bike Ride, um ... but not in Phnom Penh. Nor anywhere else in Asia by the looks of it. Are Asians anti-bikists?
- A final note, who said there were no bus-stops in Cambodia?
'Three men from Baliley village, Poipet commune and town, Banteay Meanchey province, were arrested for allegedly wounding and robbing a 33-year-old Belgium man of US$180 on May 26 while the victim was standing at the Poipet bus stop'.