Crossing Cambodia

Monday, November 23, 2009

Chasing Cars yet again

  • Under the government's search light this week are yet again the tuk-tuk's:
    'City Hall has announced it will stop fining tuk-tuk drivers who lack licence plates until the end of the year, but a ban on tuk-tuks driving along Norodom Boulevard is set to remain in place.
    Nhem Saron, director of the Municipal Department of Public Works and Transport, said drivers must all respect the Land Traffic Law. “We did allow [tuk-tuks] to drive along Norodom Boulevard, but they did not respect" the law, he said. City Hall cabinet chief Koet Chhe said the city did not allow tuk-tuks to drive along Norodom Boulevard because they wanted to keep roads clear for foreign delegations visiting Cambodia'.
    Yet, if they want the roads clear, why take all the Lexuses off, they would make a much bigger impact.
  • And more under the spotlight. Now even Deputy PM's (how many?) will not be allowed to use sirens ...
Air transport seems to be the most talked about, just look at the following articles:
  • Phnom Penh just might be connected to the Philippines in the not so distant future, thereby avoiding an expensive flight to Saigon or backtracking to Bangkok.
    'Cebu Pacific Air, a Philippines-based airline, plans to begin direct flights between its home country and Cambodia in the spring of 2010, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said Tuesday'.
    Funny how you are in a regional grouping striving to be one economy and not have direct flights. Next up Djakarta?
  • Sihanoukville's airport has been personally declared fit to open by the Minister some time back, but the official opening seems to be in the phase of putting off to the future.
    'The official opening of Preah Sihanouk International Airport has been delayed until next year at the request of the French embassy, State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) Secretary of State Mao Havannal said Thursday'.
    So minister yes, French embassy no. Some much for Cambodia being a sovereign state ...
  • Sovereignty is at the heart of the following.
    The plot:
    Cambodia not like Thai, Thai not like Cambodia.
    Some Thai not like Thaksin.
    Thaksin get kicked out of country.
    Cambodia now like Thaksin.
    Thaksin go to Cambodia.
    Thai in uproar.
    Cambodia not care.
    Apparently Cambodian skies are controlled by Thai firm Samart using CATS as the local front office. One employee hands over flight plan of Thaksin after he has landed (and traversed Thai air space) to Thai embassy official. Cambodia arrests person, kicks official out and takes over the company.
    'Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Cambodia’s takeover of CATS was “temporary” but necessary “to ensure national security and public safety".
    Which was not the case before hand?
    What is the reality? Nine Thai are replaced by 1 Cambodian. That should be good for the confidence of all Cambodian air travellers.
    KI Media
    'Cambodia rejected Monday a Thai media claim that the daughter of Prime Minister Hun Sen is to take a stake in a Thai firm at the centre of a spying row'.
    An ASEAN spying row?
A Russian project to build a bridge to Koh Pos just off the coast of Sihanoukville.

Rail news.
  • The railways are decrepit and so a foreign company will spruce them up. that costs money. So some things have to go. Personnel. Apparently the company's previous business plan was as follow:
    'Development at the Royal Railways of Cambodia totally stopped, trains run at speeds of 40km/h down to 5km/h'.
    A train driver laments:
    'At present, I only earn a salary of Riel 116,000 [approx. U$29] per month, and I have been working as a train driver for 28 years. Other workers shouted annoyingly, ‘Even nobody is promoted to new positions, and nobody knows when the salaries will be paid; if there are promotions, this happens only to their partisans.’
    Mirror adds as final sentence:
    '“The under-secretary of state in charge of the Royal Railways of Cambodia, Mr. Touch Chankosal, told Deum Ampil, ‘I did not know that the workers had protested" '.
  • Andy the only train spotter Cambodia has, is now focusing on finding missing train stations as there are no trains to spot.
    'For a look at one of those destroyed stations, the shell of Koh Touch, some 16 kms west of Kampot, is worth a look if you are out that way. Some of the walls remain as do the floor tiles, but very little else, as the vegetation has a stranglehold on what's left. A group of female rice-workers in a nearby field looked at me as though I was a complete madman as I took pictures of this empty ghost of the bygone days of the southern line'.
  • Another boat disaster. The term used seems a bit out of sync.
    'The bodies of a father and his three children who drowned after a boat carrying seven people capsized in Kandal province’s Lvea Em district on Wednesday morning have all been recovered'.
  • New Zealand teaches us road rules.
    'A stint in Cambodia teaches you to appreciate road rules. Traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, the give-way rule and seat belts reveal themselves as true blessings. In my time in Cambodia I was honked at, swerved past, almost run over and driven into the path of an oncoming concrete truck by an unrepentant tuk tuk driver.
    You certainly learn to appreciate roads rules for what they are - lifesavers'.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Chasing Cars, November 9 2009

  • From Phnom Penh's Post Police Blotter (26 Oct. 2009):
    'A university student was arrested in Phnom Penh on Saturday after throwing his helmet at a police officer during a traffic stop. The accused was stopped for not wearing a helmet while driving his motorbike near Royal University of Phnom Penh. He then threw his helmet, which was hung on the handle of his motorbike, at the police officer. The man’s father explained to police that his son suffers from a mental illness as a result of a traffic accident'.
    Guy is mental for not wearing a helmet and having an accident. What does he do, continues his previous lifestyle. Symptomatic for Cambodia's (lack of) education?
  • And a day later the Police Blotter (27 Oct. 2009) reports: '
    A woman who fled from traffic police on Saturday fell off her motorbike on Russian Boulevard in the Sen Sok district of Phnom Penh. The fall rendered the woman unconscious, said witnesses, who added that the bike was equipped with a licence plate and side mirrors, but that the woman had been driving without a helmet. Bystanders complained that police had caused the accident by chasing the woman, who was subsequently brought to an area hospital for treatment'.
    It's quite a common occurrence, police being more vigilant. Over the past weekend I was in Sihanoukville and along the way were a few surprise police check points one which had just then resulted in a minor accident.
  • Old story, woman has an accident and goes beserk. She received instant justice: 1,5 year. Then PM wades in and finds sentence too lenient and presto, authorities are now pushing for a harsher sentence. so much for independence of justice. The new charges: trepassing [you never know how long you can go in the lock up for that, in Cambodia] and intent to kill, despite the article claiming
    'she fired a gun into the air'.
    Aiming at who?
  • Another ongoing story with so many twists and turns it's hard to understand what's it about. Well, umm it's about dominance of Cambodia's internal skies with two companies vying and despite both failing to adhere to Cambodia's aviation standards which in itself is also lacking competency. Tripadvisor has the following:
    'I've flown VN air (company running flag carrier Cambodia Angkor Airways) turbo-prop planes HCMC-Nha Trang-HCMC - all fine except return leg was delayed'.
    So not so fine ...
'Volunteers [paid and forced kids] educate an unhappy motorist about road safety laws on Sunday as part of a regular education campaign by the nonprofit organisation aimed at reducing the number of road casualties in the Kingdom'.
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