Crossing Cambodia

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'
    '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'.
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