After One Year, 12 of 100 New Traffic Lights Up and Running

More than a year after work began on installing 100 new traffic lights across Phnom Penh as part of a $16 million, Japanese-funded project to reduce congestion, just a dozen lights had been switched on as of on Monday afternoon.

It could be another 10 months before the rest are up and running, said Iwase Hideaki, project adviser for the Japan International Cooperation Agency, at a news conference on Monday.

cam photo traffic light
One of 12 newly illuminated, Japanese-funded traffic lights in Phnom Penh on Monday (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

All of the lights and the centralized traffic control center, which would be located inside the City Hall building, should be ready by February, he said.

Mr. Hideaki said the new system would increase the average travel speed in the capital from 12.5 kph to 14.2 kph by improving the flow of traffic, reduce the number of traffic police deployed to the city’s streets by 20 percent and curtail the number of traffic accidents.

He said identical technology in Tokyo had brought down deaths caused by traffic accidents in Japan from more than 10,000 a year in the 1960s and 1970s to 3,904 last year.

Chou Kimtry, deputy director of Phnom Penh’s department of public works and transportation, said the new traffic lights could not improve roads all by themselves.

Better law enforcement and road quality, as well as improved driver behavior, were other factors that needed to be considered, he said.

Human behavior “is the main important factor to get traffic to be better,” he said.

Mr. Hideaki reiterated on Monday that the new lights would be synchronized in order to decrease congestion, and that surveillance cameras would capture the license plates of drivers breaking traffic laws.

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