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?
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