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PM cuts ribbon on overpass

Hun Sen also calls for citizens to follow traffic laws and wear helmets on bikes

PRIME Minister Hun Sen on Thursday inaugurated Phnom Penh’s first overpass, which he said would help to ease traffic jams along Preah Monivong Boulevard and serve as a model for future overpasses in the capital.

After cutting a ribbon to officially open the US$6 million “sky bridge”, the premier declared that traffic along Monivong “will not be jammed or crowded any longer”.

“Today we inaugurate the first overpass in the history of Cambodia. The first overpass is now born,” he said to the applause of several hundred observers.

“Now that we have the first, there should be a second, third, fourth and so on.”

Hun Sen then announced that the municipality is conducting a feasibility study for a second overpass – this one to be built on Russian Federation Boulevard near Preah Kossamak Hospital – that he said would help to facilitate the daily commute of around 170,000 vehicles and 800,000 motorbikes.

Traffic safety appeal
The prime minister also used the occasion to highlight the importance of road safety, appealing to motorbike drivers to wear helmets and asking all drivers to obey traffic laws.

“To avoid traffic accidents, drivers should respect the law, and as required, they should wear helmets,” he said. “I would like to appeal to all drivers to respect and love your lives.”

Sem Panhavuth, Road Crash and Victim Information System project manager at Handicap International Belgium, said the premier was wise to draw attention to the benefits of wearing a helmet.

“According to our data ... the number of motorbike fatalities from head injuries decreased from 86 percent in 2008 to 76 percent in 2009 because more people are wearing helmets,” he said.

In 2008, there were 297 road fatalities in Phnom Penh and 1,638 throughout Cambodia, while last year saw 243 road fatalities in the capital and 1,717 throughout the Kingdom, he said.

Phnom Penh traffic police chief Heng Chantheary said he estimated that 90 to 95 percent of the public obeyed traffic laws, and that most violators were young people.

“In general, we have seen that the number of traffic accidents has decreased because more people are respecting the laws these days,” he said.
“Accidents usually occur when people are driving drunk or driving over the speed limit.”

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