Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday warned Daun Penh district governor Sok Penhvuth to crack down on traffic offences in his territory or risk being sacked.
Mr Hun Sen observed that many drivers violate the law at the roundabout near the Independence Monument, near his house, by driving in the wrong direction.
“The biggest problem, I do not blame the people yet, but blame law enforcement officers, why don’t they look at this case? How many capital governors and Daun Penh district governors have retired?” he asked.
“I sent a message saying if this happens again, the first one to be removed is the governor of Daun Penh district.”
Mr Hun Sen said negligent authorities allowed drivers to commit traffic offences near the monument, which is an international tourist destination as well as where many national holidays are celebrated.
“The people who travel by the Independence Monument, the ironic thing is this street is in front of the Prime Minister’s house. This new road, at the Independence Monument, a new road that was born in the Techo generation, is a shameful road,” he added.
Mr Hun Sen criticised law enforcement for allowing the traffic violations to continue but also called on people to respect the traffic laws and the officials who enforce them.
“I see this as a weakness of law enforcement. The Independence Monument has a road, but what is missing is a ‘no left turn’ sign that has yet to be put in place. This is a mistake by the public works department and City Hall,” he said.
Mr Hun Sen said all citizens and drivers must work together to make the country safe and protect human life by respecting traffic laws.
“Even my children, I also call them to teach and advise both my children and my children-in-law. If the Prime Minister’s children do not respect the law, who will respect it?”
Mr Hun Sen ordered police officers to strictly enforce the traffic law and reduce the number of traffic casualties and accidents in 2018, as well as monitor worker transportation vehicles to ensure safe transport for workers.
A total of 1,780 people died and 5,539 people were injured in traffic accidents nationwide in 2017, compared with 1,717 deaths and 6,607 injuries the previous year.
Most traffic accidents were the result of speeding, not respecting people turning, overtaking in dangerous conditions and driving while sleepy or under the influence of alcohol.
National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith told local media the second sub-committee of the National Road Safety Committee has put in place two measures to strengthen traffic law enforcement and reduce traffic accidents in 2018.
Mr Chantharith said they would focus on preventing speeding and encouraging people to wear helmets when riding motorbikes. If motorists do not have a helmet, police will force them to obtain one.
He said upon their first arrest, drivers without a helmet would not be fined, but would have their motorbike held and be asked to purchase a helmet in order to retrieve it.
The second time, drivers would be fined and have their motorbike held until they showed possession of a helmet. On the third occasion, drivers would have their motorbike seized for up to three days.
Ear Chariya, director of the Institute for Road Safety, said the number of traffic accidents in Cambodia was somewhere in the middle compared with other countries in the region.
He said limited law enforcement was one factor for the number of accidents, but also blamed humans, vehicles and road conditions.
“In Cambodia, both law enforcement by the police and respect of the law by the people are still weak,” Mr Chariya said.
“Most of the vehicles in Cambodia have been imported from abroad and may have steering, braking or some technical problems. Road factors also contribute. Speeding drivers and lack of caution can cause accidents.”