While travelling in rush hour you are likely to find yourself in a traffic jam. Whether that is in Steung Mean Chey, near the Derm Kor market or in Toul Kork, motorists in busy Cambodian areas struggle to get anywhere fast.
The causes of these traffic jams are not just the volume of motorists, however. Drivers doing business along the roadside, restaurants using lanes as their parking lots and many travellers ignoring lights and lanes all add to congestion.
Miss Ung Meng Yean, 22, a student at the Royale University of Phnom Penh and who drives home along Veng Sreng Blvd. every day, describes the situation on the roads.
“Every morning I have to spend around 45mins to an hour in order to reach my school because of traffic jams, when given the distance from home to school we should spend only 15mins to 20mins.” she says.
Miss Meng Yean agrees that the reason for much of the traffic is because drivers try to compete with each other and want to be first home, or first to their destination. They don’t consider lanes or think about other motorists and this, alongside the presence of trucks and cars stopping up and down busy city arteries causes traffic to build up.
“I notice that there are many big cars that move up too close to the vehicle in front, which leads to other drivers changing their lanes and trying to pull away. There are often up to four or five lines of cars and sometimes the drivers even use the walkway,” she claims.
Mr. Vorn Sokhan, who lives in the Derm Kor market area says the road situation around his house is messy, adding that sometimes the traffic gets so dense that cars just cannot move – often due to businesses at the edge of streets, spilling out onto the lanes.
Mr. Da Vann, a vendor, agreed that street 336 was totally blocked by vendors when talking about the issue.
He said, “At first there are a few vendors and they were evacuated by guards; however, the guards take bribes so now there are more and more vendors, causing the road to become blocked with the high number of markets.”
But Vann also states that the problems around Derm Kor Market, including Monireth and Moa Singtong Street are not a result from vendors alone, but big trucks and cars parking there also.
However, Mr. Chev Hak ,Vice-Chief, Office of Land Traffic, Phnom Penh Municipal Police said that according to his observations and studies, there are several other factors that cause traffic jams. The increasing number of vehicles and the behavior of drivers play a part too, he states.
“The number of vehicles increase day-by-day but our infrastructure has not been improved, so there is no balance. In addition, some drivers go in the wrong direction, do not respect the traffic signs and lights, and some people use the road as their parking place,” he said.
“City Hall has put traffic signs that allow or do not allow drivers to park along the road, but still some people do not respect them. It is my unit’s responsibility to enforce these rules,” he added.
Mr. Chev Hak says rules and guidelines can only do so much. It is also up to drivers to take responsibility and to respect one another and their roads.
“Even if you try to strengthen the rules, there will be no improvement or success if there is no involvement from the people. So what we need is the involvement and the high responsibility of everyone – especially drivers,” he concluded.