Crossing Cambodia

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chasing Cars, mid-Feb 10

Ferry cross the Mekong. Phnom Penh in the background.

After a longer hiatus waiting for inspiration, a run of the mill entry. Or so it would seem.
  • How the government works (or not). PM calls minister 'gang minister' Why?
    '... the senior official changed the number of National Road 67 to 66, creating cartographic confusion.
    I beg you, stop changing the road numbers,” Hun Sen said, adding that the minister was behaving like a gangster by changing numbers without consulting the proper authorities. “I announce today to cancel this and keep 67 as its number,” Hun Sen [Cambo PM] said'.
  • More on the government machine. PM calls for action. Province promises. Sets date. Finds out they are too busy. Postpones and starts just in time for the Chinese New Year when Crossing Cambodia believes there are neither police nor trucks driving around to apprehend. That's the easy part, but the main part is to apprehend trucks carrying too much. So how they do it?
    'Officials have not identified a specific weight limit for trucks, saying instead that individual police officers would be tasked with determining which ones were overloaded and could potentially damage roads'.
    So arbitrarily imposing non specific limits means ....
  • What about pedestrians? They need clear paths, preferably shaded. In Kampot the one means none of the other, i.e. they cut down the trees to remove the obstacles. Stan writes a letter to the editor of the Phnom Penh Post:
    'While I support the improvements to the sidewalks on the business side of Kampot River Road for safety and aesthetics, I believe authorities should go to great lengths to save every tree possible.
    The shade and beauty they provide are far more important than the slight obstacle to walking they might cause.

    Furthermore, it’s ironic that they would put so much effort into making the walk along the riverfront safe at the same time as they are widening streets in another part of town adjacent to the market and nearly eliminating sidewalks in the process; there will be no possibility of avoiding walking in traffic there. It’s not just tourists who deserve safe places to walk. The streets in question are now far wider than traffic flows would ever warrant for a small town, and cost a lot more than necessary.

    One was already paved and functional. Meanwhile, River Road north of the new bridge, the road to my house, is a very rough dirt track with immense holes in it and desperately needs improvement. Even just grading would be an important benefit to users. The authorities have their priorities askew. There needs to be a way to solicit input before such projects are undertaken'.
  • And more government. Build an airport and the passengers will come. But that would be a success and success needs a celebration, so we postpone the inauguration until then, meaning that an airport is built but not opened. Understood? Even weirder is this:
    'It is hoped that new national carrier Cambodia Angkor Air will run the first flights at the new airport, said Tith Chantha, adding that he would like SIA to become Cambodia’s primary international airport'.
    So even the government can not force it's own airline to behave it self and do as it's told?

  • Well, the government wants to approve a monopoly for a single Toyota dealer. But this is what Toyota want, so as to better control their produce and ease of calling back ... So why the fuss?
  • More monopoly business. Find an idea (cutting out 'anarchy') and get it done. And the money will flow freely:
    'A group of boat owners is preparing to lodge a complaint against a new association that was created to streamline the booking of trips on the Tonle Sap, accusing it of cutting off direct access to customers and charging unnecessarily high fees'.
    Let the passengers pay for ..., well for nothing.
  • Meanwhile in an unassumingly unrelated incident an overcrowded boat sinks and kills seven. Now shouldn't anything be done about that? The Ministry of Water Resources washes it's hands off the case:
    'He [MoWR spokesperson] said that the ministry would resume a public-awareness campaign about water safety and urged people to follow the advice given.
    “The ministry often used to inform people and publicise warnings for all boat drivers along the Mekong River and the sea to be equipped with life vests to protect their lives from disasters, but people have ignored these warnings,” he said'.
    Warnings and implementing the law.
  • More than 14,000 were fined for not wearing a helmet in January according to official sources. That must have resulted in quite a windfall. And then there's the unofficial fines ..., so no doubt the traffic police have got something to celebrate.
    'But road safety advocates say the effectiveness of the law has been hindered by spotty enforcement, a problem that persists in part because Traffic Police rarely work at night.
    “Ninety percent of people use helmets during the day, but only around 40 percent wear helmets at night,” Him Yan [director of the ministry’s Department of Public Order!] said. “People are afraid that police will fine them, but they don’t wear them at night because Traffic Police do not work then.”'
  • Chinese New Year means more accidents, so it seems. The solution:
    '“I have informed all Traffic Police in the different provinces to reinforce the law during Chinese New Year because many people leave the city to travel to the provinces,” he [director of the Ministry’s Department of Public Order!] said'.
    But now the Chinese New Year has passed (Phnom Penh Post, 18 Feb 2010) the police are
    'the number of people who died on the road over the period matched last year’s figure, the overall number of accidents saw a decline'.
    Funny though, that the first article refers to HIB statistics which mention five times as many deaths as the police. So will the after Chinese New Year figures also be adjusted?
  • Flights increase between PPN and SRP from 4 to 5 daily.
  • Finally let's end with an article on how the government works. There's a law. But who cares? The opposition do. Cars with military license are not allowed.
    'He [MoD spokesperson] added that opposition lawmakers were not objecting to the use of military or police number plates by those entitled to apply for them and suggested that legitimate plate holders should paint their vehicles in military colours to help people determine which licences were legal and which ones were not.
    Chhum Socheat [opposition spokesperson] said that the 2007 law does include such a provision but that it was rarely implemented or enforced.
    “It is not a problem if legitimate plate owners do not spray [their vehicles] with military colours,” he said'.
    Despite the MoD defense, the Cambodia Mirror adds:
    '“Though there is such a claim from the Ministry of Defense, many citizens said that many cars of powerful officials are parked illegally and they do not obey the traffic law.”'
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