Crossing Cambodia

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chasing cars, January 27, 2010

Helmet or not?

As reported on many prior occasions in this blog, the Phnom Penh Post (20 Jan. 2010) managed to get on the message that the helmet law enforcement is far from perfect:
'Despite the heavy publicity campaigns that were tied to the amendment’s adoption, compliance has been lacklustre, and it has failed to reduce the number of traffic fatalities over the past 12 months, according to government statistics'.
Well, let's just say that
those statistics are good enough to spot trends. HIB, the NGO leading traffic safety in Cambodia, now says that change can take years, though Crossing Cambodia suspect that the failure to grasp law and law implementation are more immediate issues.
Increasingly over the last years judiciary and judicial systems have been used to enforce power to the rulers rather than something impartial backed up with law and jurisdiction.
Naturally this attitude is picked up even at the lowest levels of government enforcers. Last Saturday a motorcyclist was apprehended despite wearing a helmet and having mirrors while just a few seconds later a helmet less soldier slowly passed unobstructed the same checkpoint. Moral of this story? Become untouchable.

Anyway the focus of law implementation has briefly changed to:
  • - unlicensed driving schools (what happened to the more the merrier?),
  • - street vendors on Sisowath
    ('“I will move my stall back from the street, closer in to the building, but many vendors will not comply,” he said. “They paid money to the police to keep their businesses open as usual tomorrow.”')
  • - and trucks in Siem Reap
    ('He [ the deputy director of the provincial Department of Public Works and Transport] did not specify a specific weight limit for trucks, saying that individual police officers would be tasked with determining which ones were overloaded and could potentially damage the roads'.)
  • Vietnam Airline hopes Hanoi will become a hub for tourists from / to Cambodia. Odd this ambition, if the airline doesn't even fly direct between the capitals of these neighbouring countries ...
  • Hot on the heels of the Poipet bus terminal which means passengers need to pay an entrance fee, the already very uncompetitive boats believe that this is the future:
    'It is hoped a new 15-by-35 square-metre hub will clean up the look of the port serving the roughly 70 to 80 passengers a day that use the existing terminal. Foreigners will be charged $1 to use the facility, he said.
    This decline [in tourist traffic in the port] was steeper than the overall decline in air arrivals to Cambodia – which fell just under 12 percent in the first 11 months – suggesting that tourists were increasingly choosing not to travel by boat, instead opting for more cost-effective modes of transport'.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chasing Cars, first of the last

Spent New Year in Thailand. As part of the combat to protect their own, they had a really large road safety campaign. Fail yet again. In Bangkok everyone sticks to the rules but outside it's as if no rules exist. Many drunk driving and almost all motorcycles without helmets.
  • Hun Sen also has something against a bridge from his namesake's park to the other side of the river:
    'Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday he would cancel a major bridge contract and slammed senior officials for negligence in the awarding of build-operate-transfer, or BOT, contracts'.
  • On the Expat Advisory Services forum a discussion of a daily occurrence on Phnom Penh's street:
    'The passenger feigned shooting at me-wow was i shitting-NOT'.
    The advice part:
    'Unless you are in a Humvee adn well equipped , you do not want to get caught on the streets after midnight with all the drunk rich kids and bodyguards behind the wheel'.
  • For those of you concerned with driving up Bokor:
    'it turns out bokor opened for a day and a half at new year. a quarter of it has already been widened but not tar mac finished. the rest is still fairly rough. great fun on a dirt bike'.
    That said the road to Kampot (at the foot of Bokor) is also worth a miss as the tarmac has disappeared and huge amounts of dirt are being dunked at random.
  • Airline news: the Sydney Morning Herald manages to announce Cambodia Angkor Air's demise, coming shortly after their opening party:
    'just 14 have gone bust in the last year – including Queensland's SkyAirWorld, Fiji Air and Cambodia's Angkor Airway'.
    Odd that, seeing it was no news here and they were still flying yesterday ... The same
    source has a report on how the industry is not always as clear-cut as you would have thought. Jetstar invests in Vietnamese carrier. It makes huge losses. Management get arrested. Doubt whether the Cambodian authorities would have the same leverage over their Vietnamese managers in Cambodia Angkor Airways ...
  • Anyway with possible links to I believe Kuwait and Oman on the cards, who knows an airlink to Russia is also in the pipeline.
    'Direct lights between Russia and Cambodia are set to begin next year or 2011 at the latest, a Russian embassy official said Friday'.
    It's a wonder actually how poorly Cambodia is served by long distance carriers for Europe. Going to North America, one can book with Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean and Japanese carriers so with 1 stop you can get where you want. Going to Europe one needs to take a short hop first before flying long distance. With the Arab nations vying for customers it's a wonder that neither Qatar, Emirates or Etihad have opened shop here. The first would have the market for itself ...
  • Those flying can tack heart from the fact that Cambodian control over the air traffic control has been returned to the Thai management.
  • Then again there are less of us flying to Siem Reap.
  • Handicap International Belgium commend themselves for getting helmets on.
    'Latest figures from the Road Crash and Victim Information System show that the helmet wearing increase has led to a nationwide 3% drop in motorcycle crash fatalities due to head injuries'.
    A three percent drop? Can this be significant? Especially as the system of recording this seems highly flexible. Elsewhere the same press communique seems a bit confusing:
    'The law was strictly enforced, resulting in the current helmet rate of 85%'.
    Strict enforcement means 15% still get away with violating the law? O sorry, this is Cambodia.
  • Another Cambodia curiosity. Apparently authorities have let a company build a terminal for people leaving overland to Thailand. Unfortunately it's 5 k's from the border and you actually need to pay to get in. Tales of Asia has more comments and future predictions.
  • A slightly older link. Solar power driven bicycle fails to find market. Local supplier spends 5 years developing bicycle and is amazed that it doesn't sell. Despite that
    'it can help save energy'
    (how does that work with a bicycle?) it's expensive and difficult to use ...
  • The Christian Science Monitor (8-1-10) looks at the disppearing act of cyclo's:
    'In Cambodia a decade ago, some 10,000 cyclo drivers – as rickshaws are called here – wheeled along Phnom Penh streets. Today there are fewer than 1,500'.
  • Under the heading
    'Road safety'
    the police have proudly
    declared that they have apprehended more than 200,000 vehicles last year. 95% of those were motorcycles, 95% of the car drivers were apprehended for not wearing seat belts. Major causes for accidents in Cambodia: drunk driving and poor driving. 60 were cited for failing to adhere to traffic signs, none for drunk driving ... Anyway that's the official statistics.
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