BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA
The Royal Government of Cambodia has officially launched the “Launching of Bloomberg Funded Project on Road Safety in Cambodia” on July 19th in Phnom Penh. The project was under the financial support from the Johns Hopkin Bloomberg School of Public Health, Global Road Safety Partnership, and the World Health Organization.
General Yun Chhunny, Deputy General Commissioner of the National Police in the Ministry of Interior, said that the road order and safety saw a decline in road accidents if compared with the number of vehicles but the degree of road accidents resulting in deaths, injuries and damaged to property has remained serious.
facing this complicated subject, the General Commissioner of the National Police, under the leadership of Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, and the Ministry of Interior, have made active efforts in enforcing land traffic law and disseminating traffic law all over the country, he noted.
He stated that the positive progress as a result of these efforts is gradual behavioural change of road users toward a culture of respect for the law by adopting a habit of wearing helmets, putting on rear mirrors, registration number plates, wearing safety belts when driving, respecting traffic signs, undergoing technical check-up of vehicles and on. Meanwhile, efforts have also been actively made to prevent speeding and drink-driving offences, which often result in the serious injuries.
“Education and highlighting awareness on traffic law and recommendations of the head of the Royal Government has been actively promoted in all aspects and has engaged the private sector in road traffic law and road safety enforcement including goods transportation companies, passengers, transportation companies, fuel companies, and driving schools,” he said.
He said that good cooperation between national and international institutions in providing spiritual and material support which has also been rigorously promoted, particularly in the support for the RS10 and law enforcement capacity building projects as well as in the near future projects to enforce traffic law on drink-driving and helmet wearing in Phnom Penh capital city, Kandal and Kampong Speu provinces and other projects in the coming years, which have actually contributed to the promotion of road safety in Cambodia.
“I would like to thank Bloomberge-funded-project on Road Safety in Cambodia with the participation of the World Health Organization, Global Road Project, Handicap International Belgium as well as other organisations and donor countries for their support,” he said.
H.E. Touch Chan Kosal, Secretary of State of Public Works and Transport, said that the road incidents has worryingly increased day to day. He added that road accidents has become a main subject of serious concern to the Royal Government of Cambodia which is considered for the second biggest catastrophe after AIDS.
According to a report which was released by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport in the first six months of 2010, there were 3,040 cases of road accidents with 6,346 victims, including 931 fatalities, 2,853 seriously injured, and 2,562 slightly injured without a mention of orphans, widows, disability and assorted tragedies left behind by the road accidents, therefore making the Royal Government of Cambodia’s poverty reduction policy difficult. Moreover, road accidents were also imposing a financial burden on surviving family members of the victims for 2009, road accidents worth US$ 248 million.
He said that in response to this issue, through the international meeting of transport ministers on roads safety in Moscow in November 2009, the Bloomberg Fund has chosen Cambodia as one of 10 countries around the world for receiving aid for the road safety project. He added that, through this project, for Cambodia, the focus is on law enforcement on helmet wearing and drink-driving at daytime and nighttimes, both of which are the root cause of highest rate of death in road accidents.
The Bloomberg’s project will start in 2010 and end in 2014 with total budget amount of US$ 125 millions for the above ten countries and Cambodia receives the total budget of US$ 213,500 for the first year implementation of the projects in three targeted provinces namely Phnom Penh, Kandal and Kampong Speu provinces, according to Chan Kosal.
“I would like to especially call on all road users to participate in the prevention and reduction of road accidents through respect for traffic law by wearing helmets, safety belts, avoiding drink-driving and breaking the speed limit,” he said. “Only active participation from all road users can be minimized as stipulated as goals of ASEAN plan and Cambodia’s action plan on road safety. Without the participation of road users in road safety activities, any road safety plan will never succeed,” he added.
Mrs. Gayle Di Pietro, Representative of the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP), said that the GRSP is very pleased to be able to continue to support the many road safety initiatives taking place in Cambodia.
She continued to say that GRSP has worked collaboratively with the Government of Cambodia and the National Committee on Road Safety for several years, contributing to, for example, a number of road safety strategies, risk factor workshops including the helmet Action Plan Workshop and the helmet standard workshop, and in building the capacity of traffic police on a number of occasions, particularly on drink-driving and speeding enforcement. GRSP has also worked with Cambodian Red Cross (CRC) and Handicap International Belgium (HIB).
“GRSP is very pleased to learn that the Bloomberg Philanthropies has selected Cambodia as one of the ten countries to receive support to reduce death and serious injury on the roads under the Road Safety-10 Country (RS10) Project,” she said. “This project recognizes that road trauma is a significant public health problem and that with a small investment and by using proven intervention this situation can be changed.”
Dr. Pieter JM Van Maaren, Representative of World Health organization, said that deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes is one of the major disease burdens in the world as reported recently in the WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety. Every year, about 1.24 million people die due to traffic crashes and most of these occurred in developing countries. He added that based on a study done by HIB, the economic cost of road crashes and injuries were US$ 248 millions, a major part of which is a result of property damage, lost outputs and the human and medical costs, but it must also remember the social costs-the negative effects of road traffic injuries on families is particularly harsh among poorer households, who incur losses to their income, and often increased dept.
According to report of World Health Organization, over two-thirds of road deaths in Cambodia are among motorcyclists. This group are both most involved in crashes and are also particularly vulnerable in the case of a crash. Most motorcycle deaths result from head trauma, while Cambodia’s youths are the most severely affected among this group of road victims. Drink-driving is also a major leading cause of road crashes and casualties in Cambodia, with victims being overwhelmingly males and workers.