Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fruit on wheels

I saw some parallels here in Phnom Penh when I read this story on the press wires yesterday. Okay, so the locals haven't yet begun to ride around town with makeshift crash-helmets but if the prices rise steeply, then watch out for some ingenious ways around the road law. At the moment cheap helmets can be bought for as little as $3 on almost every street, though they'll probably give you as much head protection as a piece of dried fruit! Other similarities of course include the erractic motodops and bribeable police.

Improvised helmets in Nigeria
Police in Nigeria have arrested scores of motorcycle taxi riders with dried fruit shells, paint pots or pieces of rubber tire tied to their heads with string to avoid a new law requiring them to wear helmets. The regulations have caused chaos around Africa's most populous nation, with motorcyclists complaining helmets are too expensive and some passengers refusing to wear them fearing they will catch skin disease or be put under a black magic spell. The law, which came into force on January 1, pits two factions equally feared by the common motorist against one another: erratic motorcycle taxis known as Okadas, whose owners are notorious for road-rage, and the bribe-hungry traffic police.


Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Before anyone says it, yes I know I look like something from the film The Fly, on that photo. Good, got it in before anyone else.
In fact I always had an irrational dislike for the actor in that film, Jeff Goldblum. I don't know why, apart from his appalling acting, but I disliked him with a vengeance. A female actress I have a similar feeling for is Daryl Hannah. No reason, just disliked her. However I know she's done good works on slavery and whaling so perhaps I shouldn't be so opposed to her.

January 8, 2009 at 3:44 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

I hear the police, as well as the army and navy folks are getting a 20%-plus pay rise according to Hun Sen. However that ain't gonna stop the traffic coppers from making on-the-spot fines at every available opportunity. The boss of the traffic police has stated that all street fines are NOT pocketed by the police but go to a central fund at police HQ. Who then pockets that I wonder? Anyway that's small change to some of the business being done in the government's name I'm sure.
I hear lots of stuff every day and even if only a small % of it is true it would make my hair curl if I was living in the UK and heard that the British govt were allowing this or involved in that - but over here its endemic and you even stop raising your eyebrows after a short while. Unfortunately, its gone way too far now to rein it back to an acceptable level without a major change and determination from the top all the way down to the bottom. It ain't gonna happen anytime soon, so you have to just get on with it and go with the flow, whilst still trying to do your bit to make the world a better place.

January 9, 2009 at 10:24 AM  

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