Ladies and Gentlemen:
Today, I am greatly delighted to join you all in this closing of the seminar on “Traffic Safety and Strategy to Prevent and Reduce Road Accidents” which have been conducted during these past two days.
May I recall that, during the stock-taking conferences 2005-2006 of the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Public Works and Transport held on 15 February and 31 March 2006 respectively, I instructed the two ministries to convene an urgent meeting with participation of concerned ministries and provincial/municipal authorities to specifically review the case of road accidences, and to initiate measures ensuring traffic and transportation safety in the country while we are submitting the Law on Road Traffic to the legislative bodies for their approval. Thus, we are organizing this seminar on “Traffic Safety and Strategy to Prevent and Reduce Road Accidents” to discuss and identify the loopholes and fundamental causes of the deteriorating traffic order, safety and traffic accidents, and propose measures for prevention of traffic accidents. I hope the seminar has comes up with measures that will address the above mentioned problem.
On behalf of the Royal Government and myself, I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to His Excellency Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior and His Excellency Sun Chanthol, Minister of Public Works and Transport, who have exerted their utmost efforts in collaborating with each other to organize this important seminar. Indeed, this national seminar on “Traffic Safety and Strategy to Prevent and Reduce Road Accidents” would be a crucial part of implementing our policies of peace, economic growth, and poverty reduction.
Traffic fatality ranks second after HIV/AIDS and becomes one of the key concerns for the Royal Government to address. Thus, it must attend closely to and address the issues in order to save the lives of people and animals, maintain public order and traffic safety, and reduce the destruction of public and private properties, as well as to prevent criminal activities using road transportation.
Across the world, numbers of traffic accidents increase from year to year. Every year, traffic accidents and fatality causes death and wound of about 1 million and 50 million people respectively. At he same time, 85% of traffic fatality happened in developing countries and in the Asia-pacific region, there have been 44% of overall fatality by traffic accident over the world. The Asia-pacific possesses only 16% of the overall vehicles in the world. But, in the last five years, more than 310,000 people died and about 20 million people were wounded, and around 52 billion dollars of economic resource was further lost in Asian region.
The rate of traffic accident and death in Cambodia is higher than other countries in the Asian region in ratio to population density and in the number of vehicles. According to the data provided by the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Public Work and Transports, and Ministry of Health, the rate of traffic accident has increased 15% and 10 % of vehicles every year. At this rate, the result is 20 fatalities per 10,000 vehicles comparing to other Asian countries that have the highest fatality rate of 1 person for 10,000 vehicles.
It is true that the success in implementing the Royal Government’s political platform and the Rectangular Strategy has helped create a lot of opportunities for the economy and society to grow.
The policy on rehabilitation, development and maintenance of roads, bridges, railroads, water ways, ports and air waysremains a potential means to promote economic growth and sustainable development, because provide the infrastructure to attract and accommodate investment. These transportation infrastructures are essential foundations for production and the flows of goods. These flows of goods will sustain economy and create jobs for our people to generate income as well as ease in traveling and in exchanging goods and services, which are imperative for poverty reduction.
As I frequently pointed out, in the ground-breaking ceremony for opening the construction sites or inauguration for official use of roads, bridges and ports, that “With Road, There is Hope.” It was obvious, that roads and bridges are the blood vessels of our national economy. However, if we focus only on rehabilitation and development of these infrastructures without proper consideration on public order and traffic safety, the consequences would be catastrophic, unpredictable harms and tragedies.
Therefore, we cannot overlook road safety issues. In this sense, the 15 points in the Action Plan of National Committee on Road Safety combined with the experiences learned in 2005; and on resolution in traffic accident reduction, I urge all relevance ministries and institutions and all competence authorities to continue implementing reform traffic management system, and to boost traffic safety campaign all the time; and all places in order to reduce achieve maximum reduction of traffic accident.
As such, I would like take this opportunity to share my thoughts on some major works on Traffic Safety and Strategy to Prevent and Reduce Road Accidents” as follow:
First, traffic order and safety is imperative in maintaining public order:
In general, offenses such as robbery, grabbing, thievery, kidnapping ect., offenders of these crimes utilize vehicle to support their actions. Therefore, securing vehicles registration and vehicle’s identities as well as identities of the owner are important evidence for investigation. Therefore, competence ministries/institutions must have sufficient data from the vehicle registration and constantly update the database. It would be better, if we can maintain the document in an existing NIDA database which supported by Republic of Korea.
I would like the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Public Work and Transportation to take strict measures on cracking down illegal license-plate of vehicles and illegal driver licenses. All kinds of vehicles on the road must have legal number plate.
Second, the draft law on road traffic has already been adopted by the Council of Ministers. The new law will introduce some key components that expected to improve road safety. Experiences from other countries showed that even though the Road traffic Law was written carefully, it would make no sense if there is no strict and sufficient implementation. Therefore, after adopting the law, it requires a tough enforcement.
In addition to this, I would like to stress that traffic and other public order police officers are the key for improving national road safety. Therefore, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Public Works and Transportation must train those officers the new law and provide incentive to them to righteous law enforcement. At the same time, in practice, our law enforcement officer gain no confidence and respect from people. Thus, we should open some campaign to strengthen legality and face as well as changing their attitude in fulfilling their job.
Third, human mistakes are the main cause of traffic accident in Cambodia. Besides making road better, the changes of attitude in driving is another important issue. Competent authority is at the frontline in forcing theme to change that attitude. Therefore, enforcing the law via increasing educational promotion to the people and drivers is also essential that should be seriously considered.
At the same time, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport should make sensible environment and create a program allowing our traffic agencies and polices to directly teach students to maintain safe attitude on public road especially on the national road and road in the urban areas. The essence of training must be focused on practical law based on experience and the accidents which are occurred in the public roads and must definitely share the experience on the traffic circulation.
Meanwhile, driving license exams conducted by the private driving schools have training programs on traffic laws and driving theories; but they are yet up to the driving standards.
On the other hand, the duration driving course that in short produces unqualified drivers. Thus the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Public Work and Transport must have criteria on monitor those private schools; and define the driving lesson programs sufficiently and accurately to qualify drivers.
We would like to appreciate the Belgium International Handicaps, for it efforts in the past two years. This organization has cooperated with the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Public Work and Transport in a wide range of activities to establish the Information System on the victims and the accidents, which I think this work is a vital contribution to the prevention and reduction of traffic accidents.
As such, I encourage the three ministries to pursue and continue their cooperation more actively with Belgium International Handicaps, because improving traffic safety is their responsibilities; notably the traffic warrants, which are the most important participants in data collection, involved the causes and the places of accidents.
Fourth, repair and maintenance of the roads and bridges infrastructure are keys transportation and traffic safeties. Thus we must eliminate dangerous, disorder and unsafe environment to create a suitable space along the roads and bridges in order to insure the safety of the travelers. Tools such as traffic signs, light poles, cross cutting roads for the walkers especially for the elderly people; handicaps and pupils will improve traveling safety for all.
Provincial authorities should reconsider and provide concrete measures against illegal use of side-walks, and hazardous construction of hotels, markets, restaurants etc must have its own parking space.
Moreover, we must readjust the checking procedure of overloaded goods or passengers vehicles by not just fining violators but must demand reload all the overloaded stuffs before getting the permission to go on. Overloaded vehicles are not only prompting disorder but also cause unsafe in traffic circulation and always lead to the traffic accidents.
Fifth, nowadays, road safety has been recognized as a priority in the health sector. The Ministry of Health must play an important role in the establishment of emergency system and efficiency treatment system as well as including collections of specific data and statistics about number and causes of death, injury and investigation on traffic accident in order to prevent traffic accident.
In retrospect, I would like to reiterate my points, which was expressed on 17 March 2006 in the closing ceremony about health sector and 27th presumption of health.
In that statement, my point emphasized that right hand wheeled car imported into country may pay tax and receive legal license plate after paying tax in full. In this regard, that point was not to be construed or interpreted permitting import of right side driver car. I want to underline that my statement was not in anyway, implied or suggested that I allowed the continuing of importation of right side driver vehicles. This point I believe, we must all understand clearly. Therefore, what I want to re-affirm my statement this time is, import of right side driver vehicle is prohibited. No more right side driver vehicles. According to the news that I get now, importation of right side drive vehicles continues. This must stop. Authorities who are involved in the prevention this illegal importation of right side driver vehicles; especially the custom and excise department enforce measures against illegal importation of this type of vehicles.
The Royal Government is taking measures on traffic accident reduction strongly. We want maximum reduction on traffic fatality and injury. We commitment carry out strongly and long-term commitment toward traveling and transportation safety for all people.
In this spirit, may I call on all institutes, private sector, civil society, NGOs, and all people to pay attention on the implementation of five essentials: 1) enforcement; 2) engineering; 3) education; 4) emergency service, and 5) encouragement, because the need and emergency is joint cooperation widely forward to supports and increase capacity in settlement issues and capacity building partnership that all involved include nation and international level.
Indeed, all these tasks cannot be isolated from participation of donor countries and all development partners. Your support with budget and technical restoration of transport infrastructure at countrywide help make transportation safety an investment all people who travel in, within and out of Cambodia.
Having said this, I would like to reiterate my thanks to all the donors and development partners, and appeal for their continued partnership, because we are in need for technical assistance and funding to develop policy framework for the traffic order and safety. It is indeed an investment for all human beings.
Before closing, I would like to congratulate the seminar for its fruitful outcomes, and trust that Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen will take these good ideas discussed during the seminar and my advises seriously and utilize them in performing your respective tasks.
Finally, I would like to close the seminar on “Traffic Safety and Strategy to Prevent and Reduce Road Accidents“. And I would like to wish you all, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the five gems of Buddhist blessing.