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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Road safety funding to end

A man looks over a car that lies in a field on the side of a road last year after it was wrecked in a traffic accident in Kratie province
A man looks over a car that lies in a field on the side of a road last year after it was wrecked in a traffic accident in Kratie province. Heng Chivoan

Road safety funding to end

A major funder of road safety programs in Cambodia will not be renewing its grant for the country, sparking concerns that traffic deaths in the Kingdom will continue unabated.

Bloomberg Philanthropies, run by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, is launching the second part of its Global Road Safety Program, a five-year, $125 million grant for 10 cities in five developing countries.

But Cambodia, which was part of the project from 2010 to 2015, will not be included in the second round, said environmental engineer Steven Iddings of the World Health Organization in Cambodia, whose road safety program is entirely funded by Bloomberg.

“Very clearly, without the funding it will definitely have quite a severe impact”, Iddings said.

Sao Savanratnak, WHO technical officer, said buying radio spots and law enforcement equipment such as breath analysis machines is “very, very expensive” and would be especially vulnerable to budget cuts.

The program will seek to replace lost funding from the government and other partners, but it “most certainly would not be able to match” Bloomberg’s contributions, said Iddings, although he remained optimistic that the draft law cracking down on helmetless and drunken drivers would be passed early next year.

No specific reason was given for Cambodia’s nonrenewal. Bloomberg Philanthropies in New York did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Cambodia is on track for more road deaths this year compared with 2013.

According to newly released official figures, 1,630 people died from traffic accidents from January to September of this year, while 1,950 died in all of 2013, a 7 per cent increase from 2010.

The government’s 2011 to 2020 national road safety action plan predicts that without any intervention, yearly road deaths will increase to 3,200 by 2020.

Chan Sokol, head of the National Road Safety Committee, was not aware of the non-renewal, but said such a loss of funding could reduce the presence of an upcoming awareness campaign from 100 communes to only 30 to 40.

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