City To Build Footbridges At 3 Locations

There may soon be cement pe­destrian bridges crossing over Phnom Penh’s teeming boulevards and roads in the latest effort to cut ac­­cident casualty rates.

An average of three people die in traf­fic accidents every day in Cam­bo­dia, according to Pao Maly, deputy di­rector general for the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation.

In July, Prime Minister Hun Sen signed an order creating a committee to study plans for the Cambodia Quar­ry Company to build the walkways. The committee is charged with researching locations and en­vironmental impacts of the project.

Plans are to construct three test bridges over Monivong, Norodom and Russian boulevards, said Heng Vantha, Phnom Penh municipal de­puty cabinet chief.

Opposition lawmaker Keo Remy said he proposed walkways in front of public schools, garment factories, hospitals and Phnom Penh In­ter­national Airport in 2004, but was told to wait for road improvements first.

Keo Remy emphasized the beautiful view of the city from the pedestrian bridges: “[People] can stay and look…especially in the evening, with the sunset.”

Meas Chandy, road safety project of­ficer for Handicap International, said that walkways may help with con­gestion and accidents, but they aren’t the highest priority.

“First the government must have an effective law,” he said. “Secondly, an effective law is never done without enforcement.”

The current traffic law was adopted in 1991, providing for penalties such as a paltry maximum fine of 12,000 riel ($3) for drunk driving.

Improved traffic legislation sent to the National Assembly close to the end of the 1993-98 term was forgotten amid elections and bounced back to the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation, Keo Re­my said.

“I don’t know why they send it back and forth,” he added.

Road improvement projects don’t always cut down on casualties; even Phnom Penh’s concrete dividers, in­tended to smooth the flow of traffic, have proved hazardous in the dark to unobservant motorists. With Handicap International estimating annual traffic growth at 20 percent in Phnom Penh, pedestrians will have to continue to dodge and weave.


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