Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Crashes bring call for action

The Ministry of Interior yesterday called for all bus companies in Cambodia to install “black boxes” in their buses to monitor the “careless” driving it says has resulted in three fatal crashes on the Kingdom’s roads in the past week.

Him Yan, director of the Ministry of Interior’s department of public order, said yesterday the recent spate of high-casualty bus crashes had been caused not by faulty buses but by negligent bus drivers.

“The bus companies always co-operate well with the ministry to check their buses are in good order, but the drivers are so careless,” Him Yan said.

“So we want the companies to put  black boxes in the buses to follow the drivers and know how they are driving, and to check the speed they are driving at as well,” he said.

Him Yan said the ministry planned to crack down on reckless driving and suspend, or shut down, bus companies that were found to have caused traffic accidents.

On Friday night, a driver was killed instantly and seven others were seriously injured when a passenger bus and a cement truck collided at full speed in Pursat province’s Pursat town, police said yesterday.

Provincial deputy police chief Or Heang said there were 48 passengers on the Virak Buntham Express Travel bus going from Phnom Penh to Poipet.

“We concluded that the bus caused the traffic accident, because it had swerved on to the wrong side of the road to pass another parked truck and then crashed into the cement truck which was driving correctly on the other side of the road,” Or Heang said, adding that the driver’s cab of both the truck and bus were completely destroyed.

He added that police had impounded the bus as evidence as they believed the bus driver’s reckless driving caused the fatal accident.

“I am preparing the document for sending to the court [today], and the court will judge the driver,” he said.

Last week, a passenger bus crashed in Koh Kong province, allegedly due to the driver’s speeding, and an overloaded truck also crashed last week, injuring a number of workers.

So far this year, three people have died in passenger bus crashes, and 50 have been injured, according to Him Yan.

That figure does not include a second passenger in the Koh Kong bus crash who died a day later in hospital. In 2011, 25 people were killed in passenger bus crashes and more than 100 were injured.

Representatives from Virak Buntham Express Travel declined to comment yesterday.

However, Mekong Express bus company administrative manager Sin Sisaket applauded the government’s call for all of the Kingdom’s passenger buses to install a “black box”.

Sin Sisaket said all of the Mekong Express buses had already installed a similar machine of their own initiative to record the speed of the bus and counter bus drivers who “try to tell us a lie, because we can see what is happening during their driving.”

The devices also limit the speed at which the buses can travel.

“We put it with the wheel, so the drivers cannot drive faster than the company-imposed speed limit,” he said.

“We allow them to drive up to 70 or 80 kilometres per hour when they are transporting passengers and that is different from the speed limit from the law traffic, which allows 90 kilometres per hour.”