Thursday, May 28, 2009

Confusion over helmets

I'd fine this guy whether he was wearing a helmet or not!
Whatever you do, don't fall asleep in your tuk tuk (aka remork) or else you might be impounded. This has been the latest fad by police in Phnom Penh as a high level meeting of Asean and EU ministers kicks off today. Drivers of tuk tuks and cyclos found sleeping in their vehicles after 10pm along some of the city's main streets have been woken up and their livelihoods taken from them. Personally I use motos to get about town but I will be affected by a new ruling from the city's governor, if he gets his way. Up until now, only moto drivers have been required to wear helmets but now Kep Chuktema has said he wants all passengers to wear helmets as well, despite it not being in the current traffic provisions. Just to confuse the matter, his traffic police chief says he's not heard of it either. It's clearly the right way to go - I bought my helmet a while ago but use it infrequently - but the cost implications on poorly-paid Cambodian passengers will be a real concern. The police occasionally crack down on helmet-less drivers, or if they spot a moto without mirrors, or any other infraction they can dream up on the spot, to supplement their own meagre wages. If Kep Chuktema gets his way, this will be another reason for the groups of police standing at junctions and traffic lights to waive their batons and pull over hordes of moto-drivers and their charges.

Bridge-building fever is taking hold in Cambodia. Unless you are in remote areas, long gone are those quaint bridges made of tree trunks or the Bailey bridges made of steel that arrived with the advent of UNTAC. Instead, we are getting a plethora of brand spanking new concrete bridges like the Monivong Bridge that opened yesterday, at a cost of $10 million. That makes two Monivong Bridges, sat next to each other, and designed to reduce traffic congestion in the southern part of the city. The PM said at yesterday's opening that five more bridges were in his plans, two of which will be for a new railway line that will cross the Bassac and Mekong Rivers. And thank goodness that another bridge, sat alongside the Japanese Friendship bridge is in the plans too, as the congestion there, at any time of day, is a nightmare.
One of those tree trunk bridges I was talking about, in Preah Vihear province


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