The launch of 100 new Japanese-funded traffic lights in Phnom Penh will be delayed, despite officials signing off on the deal last year.
Japan inked the $16 million deal through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (Jica) in February 2016. However Chou Kimtry, deputy director of the municipal department of transport, said yesterday the traffic lights will not be operational until February 2018.
During a briefing yesterday, Mr. Kimtry said the project has hit roadblocks due to lack of cooperation from residents and unfavorable conditions for road works.
“These projects always face obstacles. The installation of traffic light poles is one of them. It’s hard to find an effective place to install poles that will not affect the public. When we install them in front of residents’ homes, the owners don’t want to cooperate because they say it blocks their house,” he said.
Since February 2016, only 12 traffic lights have been installed but are yet to be switched on pending the completion of road markings.
“Road marking is another problem. During the day, the roads are very congested. We have to think about people’s safety first,” he explained.
“We can only do it at night which is also difficult because we need lights to carry out the road works.”
He added the 12 traffic lights will go live ahead of the other 88 because they are urgently needed, which runs contrary to the original plan for all 100 to be switched on at the official launch next year.
“Because there is a high demand for the traffic lights to deal with congestion, we asked Jica if these could be made operational first,” he said.
Hideaki Iwase, project formulation advisor at Jica, explained the new traffic lights will be timed to coincide with others in a bid to reduce waiting times.
“The timing for the new traffic lights will be adjusted according to the traffic control center at Phnom Penh municipal hall where the traffic lights are connected through vehicle detectors and CCTV,” Mr. Iwase said.
“It will allow traffic to flow more quickly with travelers not needing to stop at every traffic light like a number of the current ones. For example, at intersection A, the driver will drive through a green light and when they arrive a second intersection, the light will also be green, as with the third traffic light,” he said.
“It will increase the speed at which vehicles travel by 14 percent, meaning from 12.5 to 14.2 kilometer per hour.
“It will also reduce the number of traffic police dispatched to these intersections and lastly, it will eventually reduce traffic accidents.”
Throughout the implementation of the project, Jica will also be providing training to transport officials on how best to manage traffic from the traffic control center. Upon completion of the project, traffic light maintenance work will be carried out by the municipal transport department.
On average four people die in traffic accidents every day in Cambodia. Last year, 1,717 people were killed in road accidents, while 6,600 were injured.
Over Khmer New Year, police reported 121 traffic accidents nationwide, resulting in 55 deaths and 236 injuries.
In the first quarter of 2017, there were 983 traffic accidents reported, most of which occurred in Phnom Penh as well as in Kandal and Banteay Meanchey provinces. In those three months, 489 people died while 1,456 others were injured in traffic accidents.