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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ban on cars highlights latest city bus plan

Ban on cars highlights latest city bus plan

Private cars and trucks without special authorization will be banned from entering

Phnom Penh, starting from some time in April.

According to city transport bosses this is not a joke. It's the foundation of a Municipal

Government attempt to reduce traffic congestion and start "park and ride"

bus services on the four major routes into the city.

Bus terminal transfer stations have been built on the major routes by the four different

companies who will operate them. Buses will run between the terminals and the major

markets.

The park and ride scheme has been developed from recommendations in the 2001 Phnom

Penh Transport Master Plan, written by Katahira and Engineers International, funded

by the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA). The study concluded that fundamental

improvements to the transport system were urgently required, and bus transport was

at the top of the list.

Department of Public Works and Transport (DPWT) director Nhem Saran says he wants

it started before Khmer New Year celebrations (April 13-15) when congestion is at

its worst and the potential for accidents is high.

However the project requires ratification by the new National Assembly of a draft

traffic law creating enforceable regulations.

Saran says he is "hoping" the National Assembly will be set up in time

to pass the law to implement the new system before Khmer New Year. He could not state

whether the system would proceed before the law was approved.

Residential vehicles, trade vehicles, tourist transport, overseas aid, government

and essential service vehicles will be able to apply for authorizationto drive in

the capital from the DPWT. Heavy trucks using the heavy traffic by-pass routes will

also be exempt. Other trucks will be required to offload goods to smaller vehicles

for delivery into the central city.

Saran said DPWT would sell authorization tickets to vehicle owners who qualified.

The scale of charges was being set by the Municipal Government office.

Saran says the plan is far from perfect and potential for corruption is high, "but

we have to start somewhere. Congestion can only be remedied by reducing the number

of vehicles in the city. We have no money to widen streets or provide metered parking,

this is the only way we can tackle it. We wanted to introduce this scheme last January

but there were too many unresolved issues."

He said the traffic police would be responsible for controlling corruption, and also

enforcing the regulations. A driver education campaign would be carried out during

the initial stages to prevent unfair treatment of commuter traffic and ensure that

everyone understands how the system will be managed and enforced.

Bus terminals had been built and would be operated by four different companies chaired

by the following persons: Prek Leap National Road 6A, Suy Sophan's company; kilometre

9 NR 5, Hor Yean's company; Chom Chao NR 3, Chum Saroeurn's company; Chbar Ampov

NR 1, Hun Vathy's company. They will also operate the car parks, collect all money

and pay a percentage to the city government.

Vehicles will be stopped at road blocks on an inner ring road and diverted into large

parking areas adjacent to bus terminal transfer stations. The bus operator is Howah

Genting Transport of Kuala Lumpur. This company is already operating long-distance

buses in Cambodia and has been given exclusive rights to the non-subsidized city

service in exchange for taking the commercial risks.

Vehicle occupants will have the choice of entering the city by bus, taxi van or motodop.

The number of taxi vans and motodops allowed to queue for business will be controlled

by the operating company to prevent congestion occurring.

Saran says bus fares are still being negotiated but will probably be 1,000 to 1,500

riel. This is considered affordable for the major low-income user groups, school

children and street vendors. It will also be competitive with taxi-van and motodop

charges.

The traffic police will fine drivers of vehicles considered to be in the city illegally.

Fines will range from 5,000 to 50,000 riel.

Saran said: "We will enforce new regulations to make the system work. We want

to keep out as many cars and trucks as possible. Large trucks carrying domestic merchandise

for local destinations will be required to discharge into smaller vehicles, or use

the heavy traffic bypass of the central area to CWT port.

"Special licenses will be issued to organizations such as the World Food Program,

Red Cross, other NGOs with regular business outside the city, and essential services.

"The fares will be in cash payments, also charges for authorization licenses.

Traffic police will fine those who do not observe the regulations. For passenger

car owners who are resident downtown we will only allow one occupant per car."

The 2001 master plan study said the number of registered vehicles had increased 2.6

times in the period 1991-2000 and then comprised 247,000 motorcycles and 48,000 passenger

cars. An estimated 6,000 motodops were operating.

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