Crossing Cambodia

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chasing Cars, two days before Christmas, 2009

Nearly 2 weeks have passed since the latest edition and I'm yet again sorry to say hardly anything has happened. That said I mean on the traffic front. Elsewhere the Cambodian government has been staking it's claims by forming the Thai opposition, pussy footing the Vietnamese, getting more from the Chinese than even the rest of the world managed during the Climate talks (well, actually selling a dozen Uigers and their criminal kids) and slagging Bangladesh's efforts to control battery acid as undoable. So if you are waiting for miracles for next year, they just might well happen ...
  • Public transport is on the cards. Cambodia can do all the above but fails to even set up a system under which private enterprise may well do all the public transportation. Within the city, it relies on a load a free-wheeling cowboys who's mass transport is literally that; motorcycles with a slightly extending sitting area which will either take you, your family and their neighbour's daughters school class or anything smaller than a container. Can we call this public transport?
    Outside of town we use mini-buses which have been deliberately not changed to facilitate passengers, which are subsequently overloaded and decrepit. Or we use saloon cars, beyond their purchase by date, stuff as many people as possible (10 or more), plus a number in the (open boot) and thus we travel up and down the country.
    But that's set to
    'Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema has pledged to create a public transport service within five years in a bid to ease traffic congestion in the capital'.
    So public traffic is not for the public but it's there to allow hot shots to keep easing through the city. Five years? Ambitious.
    '“Now, we are thinking that if we create a bus system, people will travel by bus,” Kep Chuktema said, adding, however, that “Cambodian people do not like to walk, and they like to use their own vehicles to travel quickly to their destinations. This is an obstacle to creating a public bus system”'.
    The biggest obstacle to public transport in Phnom Penh is the lack of forward thinking and common sense.
  • Thailand will start cracking down on pillion riders without helmets.
  • More back slapping yourself. Helmet wearing triples due to the efforts of:
    'The primary reason for the increase in helmet wearing rates is the multi-stakeholder helmet awareness campaign'.
    And law enforcement. And more law enforcement. And more law enforcement. And ..., well you get the idea.
    The fact of the matter is that the organization involved has been propagating helmets for years and only once the police started to see the point, the system kick in. The result?
    'The latest figures from Cambodia's Road Crash and Victim Information System (RCVIS), meanwhile, show that the helmet wearing increase has led to a nationwide 3-percent drop in motorcycle crash fatalities due to head injuries'.
    Three percent. My thoughts are that the drop may well be related to the economic slump ...
  • Anyway the RCVIS has no back-up data on this, they have been wrong in the past. Just looking at most recent data. Fatalities are up (and the number of hospitals reporting to them is especially here in Phnom Penh is low), on average this year 25% were hit and run cases, more than half reported speeding as cause and 1 in eight of the cars involved had the steering wheel on the wrong side ... Do I hear the government ?
  • How many times can you get in the press? ADB congratulates itself yet again for reviving the national railways. Let's just wait till it's happened.
  • Trade with Vietnam can go up, if only there were good roads.
    'Locals, government officials and economists say the ill repair of Kampot’s Road 33 does more than slow motorcycles: it slows trade and economic growth'.
    Road 33 is slated for an upgrade next year it seems as ADB and Australia match Cambodia's 3.7 $ million with 4 times as much ...
  • Fighting the law? A first hand account of being crashed and seeking redemption. Not.
    'So my friend catches up with them and says "You know you just hit someone back there?" and in true "off the rails" fashion the passenger who incidentally is a uniformed policeman reaches behind him and pulls a pistol on my good Samaritan friend, saying "i think you should leave this alone"'.
    Elsewhere on the
    EAS forum I read that police are concerned about getting bad press ... Now why would any one slag the police? Or the countryf or that matter?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chasing Cars, December the tenth 2009

Two whopping weeks have passed and I haven't hardly got anything to elaborate on. Boring, boring. Police are out doing their job. The dodgers are out dodging the police and no improvement seems to be happening.
  • Phnom Penh Post looks at corruption yesterday (9 December 2009). The visual example is as follows with subtext:
Photo by Tracey Shelton.
'Police refuse to issue a traffic fine to a driver on Sihanouk Boulevard earlier this year, saying they do not have the paperwork for official fines and can only accept bribes'.
  • New tax proposal accepted by the Cambodian parliament:
' “The budget law for 2010 foresees also an increase of taxes on means transportation including automobiles (road taxes):
  1. Vehicles with a power over 12 HP to 17 HP, within 5 years from their production date, have to pay Riel 500,000 [approx. US$125] each year, and after the 5th years, it is Riel 360,000 [approx. US$90].
  2. Cars with a power over 17 HP to 24 HP, within 5 years from their production date, have to pay Riel 1,600,000 [approx. US$400], and after the 5th year, it is Riel 1,200,000 [approx. US$300].
  3. Cars with a power over 24 HP, like Lexus’ and Land Cruisers, had to pay only Riel 1,000,000 [approx. US$250] for road tax in the previous year, but next year, they will be charged Riel 2,000,000 [approx. US$500].
  4. As for passengers’, general transportation, and tourists’ cars with a power of 12 HP, and small motorbikes, their taxes are kept at the same level'.
  • Boating in Cambodia. A talesofasia forum entry has all the answers.
  • The airport ready but still not opened (Sihanoukville) is pleased to mention that it just mite receive regular flights from neighbouring countries Malaysia and Korea. No wrong, our neighbours are Thailand and Vietnam. Wouldn't that be more logic, flights from Saigon and Bangkok? Rather than an A320 from Seoul?
  • Economy getting back into shape. I mean economic indicators pointing to more money being made in the country but collectively we're getting poorer at least psychological, why need money? To buy .... motorcycles!
    'Dealers say new Honda models are driving recent rebound'
    They drive themselves?
  • Yet again suckers trying to bus themselves to/from Bangkok, this time via Koh Kong.
    'The Combined tickets F*ck us travellers. And Koh Kong is not a quick way to Bangkok....The companies don't think we will spread the it! We are not collectively STUPID'.
    Is that a question? Do you really want me to answer that?
  • More on buses to/from Sihanoukville. From Khmer 440:
    'Be aware that if you are doing this trip with Kampuchea Angkor Express, they do not stop in PP city area, but continue straight across the Jap. Friendship bridge to their new office on the other side of the Tonle Sap. All that inspite of me asking where they stop, before buying my ticket. Their answer was at the Old Market. Maybe this is the first stage of relocating all buses outside the city center'.
    Interesting that, spend an extra hour in the bus so as to be dropped off at some kind of out of town shelter, jam packed with creamers (moto's / tuktuks). Great system. What about the government open up bus stations for the diverse directions, i.e. a southern, western, northern and Vietnamese bus station? They could ex-expropriate some poor souls, get some git to do all the work for free, lease it out for 100+ years (that's the theory) and sit on top of the cash and do the public a favour in the process. City Hall reads this blog? Nah, they have no dosh for a internet connection ...
  • On yer bike? Tomorrow an exhibition by Bike Ben on something he did and how he landed up in the Penh. @ the living room.
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