IMPORTS of motor scooters reached 264,085 units, with a total value of $139 million in the first 11 months of last year – a 55 per cent jump from 170,380 units worth $86.5 million in the corresponding period of 2011, according to data from the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
The absence of public transport and the economic development of Cambodian rural areas, along with improved roads, are prompting more people to buy motorcycles to get around.
“We have to remember that motorbikes are still the main form of transport for Cambodian people,” Phal Ra, marketing manager at the Japan Motorcycles Shop, which sells Honda motorcycles, told the Post yesterday.
“The purchasing power of people from rural areas has been increasing from year to year, which is a significant reason for this boost,” he added
The ministry data do not provide details on which scooter brands were imported last year.
But according to market observers such as Vouch Lay, a motorcycle dealer with two branches in Phnom Penh’s city centre, Japanese brands produced in Thailand are the most popular among Cambodian
“I think Honda is the leading brand in the market, Suzuki [comes in] second, and Yamaha is third,” Lay told the Post yesterday. “There are some brands imported from China and Vietnam, but they are the subsequent option.”
However, more motorcycles on the Kingdom’s roads may not necessarily be a good thing.
Cambodians’ dissatisfaction with the city’s traffic congestion is often heard at traffic lights, where people on scooters often share their complaints with riders next to them, especially during rush hour.
Youk Chamroeunrith, the general manager of Forte Insurance, said the popularity of individual transport was contributing to congestion in the capital and a high accident rate.
“The number of [people] with motor insurance is tiny, which is not good compared to the current practice in neighbouring countries,” Chamroeunrith said.
“The [increasing] use of individual vehicles is also a barrier for the country to urge companies to invest in public transport such as municipal bus services.”
An October 2011 case study by the Japanese development agency JICA said Phnom Penh’s traffic jams could have serious economic and environmental consequences for the city.
“If this situation is left untouched, the traffic situation in Phnom Penh will soon reach a level that could hamper economic growth and the livelihood of the capital’s citizens,” the study said.