Crossing Cambodia

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chasing Cars, September 28, 2009

A tellingly short item in the Phnom Penh Post mentioned that the 'traffic crackdown ends'. Why would that be the case? Because P'Chum Ben is now behind us and there's not much demand for fining poor traffic users? However it's simply the confiscating that is being discontinue:
'Him Yan, deputy director of the Department of Public Order of the National Police Station, said:“We notice that our [confiscation] campaign has been very successful because nearly 90 percent of the population now understand and abide by the traffic laws. So we think it is time we started fining [again].”
Well the fact that fining continues (observed yesterday) as well as this statement seem to contradict the article heading. One wonders though if such a high official can claim that 90% understand and abide to the traffic rules. Surely he means just the couple of rules being enforced. There's still a long way to go
  • More (or less) on official comprehension. Bangkok Airways which has been flying between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh for the past year have been told to clear off. The Phnom Penh Post mentioned on Friday (25 Sept. 2009) that it was due to commercial reasons, i.e. to protect the governments own air line, howevr today's rag as well as Saturdays Cambodia Daily mention that Siem Reap Airways will start to fly again. Who knows? Thailand's Nation while reporting on the same mentions that Phnom Penh is serviced by JAL and Qatar
  • Accidents happen. In the middle of town. Outside some of Phnom Penh's more popular nite spots. So no surprise that the Khmer 440 has an extensive thread on this accident. The gis: Camry rams tuk-tuk (and kills chauffeur), wacks some parked bikes and ends up stuck. Driver was arrested would you believe, car was later demolished by spectators. Driver not well connected to get off the hook.

Another bus ride. According to Cambodia Daily (26 Sept '09), bus was on the wrong side of the road, wacks moto (of a police official) and ends up besides the road. Driver disappears. This and more on long distance bus stops on Khmer 440.
  • Tourist trapping? Yet again a focus on riding Cambodia's decrepit rails:
    'Hop on Cambodia's (very) light railway'.
    Why not?
    'I ask my guide, Thy Racky, if anyone is ever injured. He says six tourists were hospitalised last year when their bamboo train hit a bump and flipped off its wheels'.
    It's also deadly boring.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chasing Cars, pre-P'Chum Ben 2009

With just a few days to go before P'Chum Ben kicks off, law enforcement seems to be stricter than ever before. I have heard from drivers getting fined (though at unofficial rates) for dodging red lights and not wearing seat belts. Yesterday authorities even had the audacity to apprehend moto's driving the wrong way up street 63! Just goes to show how a little financial incentive can kick-start traffic police into laying down the law ....

'Motorists and pedestrians last week make their way through flood-soaked streets in Phnom Penh' (Phnom Penh Post, 14 Sept., 2009).
  • Details are Sketchy also refers to the photo of Cambo's PM moto-ing around Kampot, finding the photo all the way over at and repeating the comment on the need to fasten the helmet straps. However the law in Cambodia goes as follows: Chapter III, Art. 9:
    '4. The drivers who drive motorcycles, tricycles and the motorcycles with trailers / remorque must wear safety helmets'.
    It doesn't stipulate anything about how it should be fastened or what actually constitutes a safety helmet. The same article also mentions that driving and using mobile phones is not allowed, now there's a potential money spinner ....
  • Continuing with the PM, he now has told transport firms not to overload so as to protect bridges and road surfaces. He also highlighted the problem of corruption in meeting this.
    'He [the PM] noted that the ministries concerned would also need to take account of low-level corruption, saying that simply weighing trucks would not be sufficient, as drivers could avoid the measure by giving money to officials'.
    Seems a bit unfair if high level corruption is allowed to prevent the lower echelons from earning a little extra.
Khmer September Caption contest 2. My favourite:
'Bus driver: We can still make it. First we stop here for nyum bai'.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chasing cars in the rain

Photo opportunities for the press are far and few between in Cambodia. Mostly the Cambodian PM is pictured rambling on any old folklore tale (when will be the next time war will break out?) while standing in front of a gathering of tired looking officials who only turned up for the following free lunch. Seldom is he caught outside these plush venue's.

But a flood in the coastal town of Kampot provided the opportunity for some great photo's. The following photo shows a PM on moto ('Sir, sir! Yes?'). With wing mirrors and a helmet on. Just wonder whether or not he has his license on him ...
(Source: Reuters via KI Media).

Other than that not much to mention.
  • Moto taxes were to go down but aren't.
    'Prime Minister Hun Sen announced in June that he wanted officials in every province to collect all appropriate fees and taxes in accordance with the Land Traffic Law'.
    The key word is appropriate. What is appropriate?
    'Authorities have dropped fees from $250 to $100 and then to $60, depending on the type of motorbike'.
    The protestors are holding out for $0.
  • Khmer 440 forum has a debate on how much to pay moto's. Problem solved:
    'I always pay a dollar no matter how far or near. I don't know the place of your residence, but one dollars is my standard fare. I know others pay less but I have always paid one dollar a ride for the past 7 years'.
    At least he's clear.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Chasing cars, 3-9-09

Heavy rain has been coming down for the past 4-5 days rendering much of Phnom Penh's infrastructure unusable, at least during the rains themselves. Holes are re-appearing in the street and poor roads are now getting a wash out, take care. What is known as the only flood map of the city, discussed on Khmer 440 has seen added comments 2 years after the original. An update is apparently underway ....
  • Enforcing the law. The police claim now to have (temporarily) confiscated nearly 100,000 vehicles! Quite a feat. What's more surprising is that over 1% of this vehicles remain unclaimed, can't believe it myself.
  • Discussion on Khmer 440 also involves comments saying the traffic situation is changing slowly for the better. Crossing Cambodia is yet to see itself as do others, though 2 from members reporting a 'Hummer' giving way! Response:
    'Yeah I know the Hummer guy. Don't get your hopes too high quite yet. His maid's on vacation in the province and he doesn't want to wash off the blood and bones fragments by himself so he's taking it easy this week.
    She's back next sunday and he'll hit the road (and the rest of us) with a vengeance'.
    That's more like it ....
  • Anyway according to a report of the Traffic Police
    '299 tourists were involved in road accidents in Cambodia in the first half of 2009, compared with just 168 in the first half of 2008'.
    During that period there were less tourists, so have all of sudden the farang turned into bad drivers? The report has no answers. Why target transport companies for tourist?
    '"It is really very bad for our tourism sector when tourists die in road accidents here," said Sem Psnha Vuth, victim and road accident information controller. "Visitors who see road accidents will be shocked."
    What about the 'common people'? Not so bad?
  • The last CC post entry contained a reference to Phnom Penh Posts interview with a female moto-taxi driver. Apparently they are 'rare', they claim. Funny though that the Globe August edition are able to get an interview with another female moto-dup chauffeur. Copy-cats? Though it may be rare and seen as something special Morn Thida denies this.
    'What challenges do you face as a female motodop?
    To be honest there aren’t that many challenges as the job isn’t difficult.'
    She does note a specialty not often en-counted with moto-dops:
    'Most people, from my experience, would rather I ask than pretend to know where I am going'.
    However the Globe seems to be intend to make Thida feel strange as they insist on asking questions concerning the female element. Thida shrugs them all off. Out of desperation the next to last question is :
    'If you were to marry, do you think your husband would mind your choice of profession?
    I can’t imagine he would mind. If he can find another job for me that pays more, then great, I’ll try that',
    Thida answers. Welcome to the 21st century, Globe!
  • The Globe is also the source of an in-depth article on Cambodia's new airline, Cambodia Angkor Air. Mostly the article points out the promise. This week it also took delivery of an Airbus, so as to expand the number of flights which seems to contradict the dire econmic times. Whether it's the right move remains to be seen:
    'The airline - which launched July 27 - had seen a steady increase in passenger numbers, with an average passenger load of between 30 and 40 percent during the first month of operations, he said, without supplying official data, which he said was not yet available'.
    Considering the prices were $6 on the main internal stretch, the economic logic seems to be far away. A CAA spokesperson:
    ' "For the first few years, we do not expect any profits. We will just promote our carrier and attract customers" '.
    Deep pockets?
  • More past to present info. This time tracks. As expected rail dwellers are not to get much for moving off the rail. The PPP accompanies a brief and boring report with a photo of kids playing on the tracks.
  • Then the traffic on water. More cash is in the offering for a 'port' in Kep so as to enable tourists heading for The former Cambodian island of Phu Coc, again reported by the PPP. A conference center is what is on the cards ...
  • With less tourists, boat companies are clashing in Siem Reap over tourists, so reports the PPP. Background of the 'clashes':
    ' "The Cambodian Association of Travel Agents has no business organising boat tours. They have become involved in order to protect the interests of rich and powerful people," he said'.
    Ah, such is the Khmer republic ...
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