Despite Phnom Penh City Hall stating in March the 100 new traffic lights installed around the city would be operational by the end of May, then saying they would be completed by the end of June, the date has shifted again to August.
City Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey said teams were having trouble hooking the new lights up to the electrical network and that only 20 of the traffic lights were operational, despite being installed one year ago.
“We are connecting to the electrical network because this work was related to technical work,” he said.
“Currently there are about 20 in operation and it will be finished in August,” he said.
The new traffic lights were funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency and cost $16 million in a bid to ease congestion in the capital’s streets.
However, many of the lights that are yet to be switched on are blocking the view of the existing and functioning lights and posing a risk to motorists, according to Ear Chariya, the director of the Institute for Road Safety (IFRS).
“It could be very dangerous to have both of them at the same time because some drivers might not pay attention to the lights and might run the red light and cause accidents,” he said.
“Once the new ones are functioning, the old ones must be removed immediately to avoid confusion and blocking the view of the working ones.”
Mr. Chariya said the lack of communication as to when the “simple” project would be completed was frustrating.
“When the plan is always delayed, it is not a plan – people are having difficulties in the traffic right now because of the improper functioning of the traffic lights, especially during rush hours,” he said.
“City Hall should have planned better and worked better on such a simple project. There should have been better communication between the City Hall and the public.”
However, Mr. Pheakdey said the completion date was not important and what mattered was that the lights would be completed, eventually.
“The important thing is we are continuing to work on it,” he said.
Congestion is but one part to Cambodia’s traffic woes, with a survey conducted by the IFRS finding only 20 percent of respondents could understand basic traffic signs.
Meanwhile, car ownership among Cambodians continues to rise by 20 percent per annum, according to the IFRS’s data, only adding to the capital’s congested streets.