Cambodia tweaks poorly enforced traffic laws
WRITER: ONLINE REPORTERS 24 Dec 2016 at 16:02
Authorities in Cambodia are preparing to revise traffic laws but critics say the changes are unlikely to bring down accident totals unless enforcement, which is highly inconsistent, is improved.
The changes being discussed reportedly include enforcement of a widely ignored rule that requires drivers of trucks transporting workers to and from factories to have licences. There are about 4,000 such drivers in 14 provinces. About 22% do not have the proper licences to operate large vehicles and accidents are frequent.
Meanwhile, there is confusion about whether regulations requiring seatbelt use, which were passed two years ago but remain loosely enforced, will continue in their present form.
The current law requires all car passengers to wear seat belts in rural areas, because of the risk posed by speeding on the open roads, but not in the city where traffic moves more slowly. Helmets are also supposed to be mandatory for motorcyclists and passengers, and higher fines are supposed to take effect next month.
Prime Minister Hun Sen came under heavy fire from critics for some of the amendments that were leaked to the media last week, the Khmer Times reported.
They included the reported removal of the need for a licence for motorcycles under 125cc, and the scrapping of a requirement for car passengers to always wear seatbelts.
Parliament is scheduled to vote on Monday on nine amendments to the Traffic Law proposed by the Permanent Committee to the National Assembly (NA).
Sections expected to be changed include article 40, about the kinds of licences needed for certain vehicles; article 48 on the technical characteristics of vehicles; article 75 on vehicle arrests; article 77 on the use of fake documents; article 82 on unintentional murder; and article 90 on criminal lawsuits.
NA spokesman Peng Long did not explain how the articles would be changing or what they would be replaced with.
The government has said the changes are a response to a public outcry over the law after nearly one year of implementation. The focus will be on the “promotion of quality, efficiency and transparency in the management of traffic safety", according to Nin Saphon, a member of the public works, transport and telecoms working group.
Touch Chan Kosal, a secretary of state at the Public Works and Transport Ministry, said a lack of enforcement also prompted officials to scrap parts of the law.
The initial Traffic Law was passed in January, but the outcry over the new rules forced officials to push its effective date back to March and remove some stipulations.
Among the complaints, citizens said the prices for licences were too high. They also questioned whether enough was being done to preemptively stop corrupt traffic police officers from taking advantage of the new law.
Government officials say the law has helped to reduce road accident numbers this year. But a survey released late last month by Stakeholder Engagement and Support found that more than 60% of respondents either knew little about the new law or nothing at all.
The Transport Ministry has said it is trying to spread the message about the rules, but they are having little success without strict police enforcement to back it up.
Him Yan, the deputy National Police Commissioner, said last week that there were 3,338 reported traffic accidents in the first 11 months of this year, down 11% from 3,789 during the same period last year. Deaths and injuries alse decreased but he did not say by how many.
Despite its successes, parts of the law are still being routinely ignored.
The ban of truck drivers without licences from taking workers to and from factories is a prime example, said Public Works and Transport Minister Sun Chanthol.
Last month, 20 garment workers in Kampong Speu province were injured, eight severely, after the truck they were traveling in overturned. The month before, 61 garment workers in Svay Rieng province were injured in a similar accident.