What Cause Traffic Jam in Cambodia?

Traffic jams are currently causing boredom in many places over the world where cities are booming. And here in the Kingdom of Cambodia, especially in Phnom Penh, her Capital city, traffic jams are marking boring waiting along the tiny roads too. Fortunately, the jam situations in Phnom Penh and some other crowed places are not really serous like other wider cities.

Of course, when mentioning about traffic jams toward Cambodian people living outside Phnom Penh, they will feel bit strange and reluctant, and it is because most of Cambodian provinces-cities are rarely faced with the jams, for it can founded in some boom towns and cities such as Phnom Penh Capital, some crowded provincial towns, markets, and business neighborhoods only.

Traffic at night in Phnom Penh, Independence Monument.

Besides these above mentioned locations, you will find it comfortable to commute along the roads crossing Cambodia to wherever and whenever you want. However, most of the roads are not really standardized and smoothed like other developed countries either that also raise another concern for commuters. But I don’t think it is the serious point that cripples people to travel entire the country.

The Kbal Thnal Sky Bridge opened on 24th June 2010. The main purpose is to reduce the traffic jam.

Causes of traffic jams:

To my own observation, the traffic jam is really a big concern for Phnom Penh, and other crowded locations in the countries, since most roads are not available for more expansion, whereas the population of city dwellers keeps increasing along with the purchasing of more motors and cars for their own travels since public transportations are not yet available.

Currently, there are about 1.5 million people living in Phnom Penh alone, while the Cambodia’s total population almost reaches 15 million covering her 24 provinces-cities. The population growth is increasing rapidly from year to year, the constructions are also booming by that way, and what is worst, i.e. 800,000 motorbikes, 170,000 vehicles (according to a report from the Cambodia’s Transportation Ministry few months a go), and probably thousands of uncounted bikes too are being commuted, filling all confined roads in Phnom Penh, and the crowded areas.

On the other hand, the constant jams are also blamed to the gathering of cities like Phnom Penh where is the center of employment, schooling, business, and many other affairs that gather millions of people crossing the counties to pour in. yes, you may not find the traffic jam occurring at the rural area where job opportunities, businesses are remarkably lacked.

Occasion of severe jam in Cambodia, and especially, cities

Traffic Jam in Phnom Penh on Water Festival

Regarding to the occasions of when the traffic jams on daily basis can be noticed—Saturday and Sunday have been spoken by most of the passengers to be the busiest day of trafficking in Cambodia, and if regarding to jamming by definite hours, in the morning from 6:00 to 8:00 A.M. (people go to work, schools), 11:00-12:00 (leave works and schools in the afternoon),and evening from 4:00-6,30 P.M (leave works and schools) have been said the most boring hours to wait on the road too.

Besides this regular busy time, during the national holidays or long holidays such as New Year Day, Phnom Ben day, Water Festival, and so on, you will find the roads are busy and filled with vehicles, and passengers much greater than normal. For example, during the 3-day Water Festival to be celebrated in Phnom Penh in November annually, around 5 millions people including international tourists pouring into Phnom Penh, making the city crowded both day and night, but definitely it is really the best pleasure period to visit the city too. I do believe international visitors feel find it a remarkable visit during this occasion as well.

Fortunately, there is plan to ease the traffic jams in Phnom Penh

2nd Sky Bridge, in construction and plan to be finished beginning of 2012.

Fortunately there is good news for Phnom Penh citizens, i.e. the arrival of the public transpirations mainly bus and train lines are projected to emerge soon.

Phnom Penh Mayor Kep Chuktema said on the Central Market inauguration on May, 25, 2011 that the fist five lines of buses and a fast train line running basically from the railway station to Phnom Penh International Airport will be soon emerged in order to ease traffic jams which serve as a worry after the soaring population growth, and the number of motorbikes and cares has been increased sharply in recent years.

According to him, the Royal Government has already approved this public transport proposal, and Phnom Penh Hall is apparently conducting feasibility studies with the French experts.

The project has high possibility to get funding from the French government through the French Agency for International Development (AFD)and now the municipality is seeking a capable company [possibly from France] to hold the project while already getting assistance from France.

“I understand people’s boredom with this daily problem, because I myself also suffer from the jam that affects my working time too.” said the Mayor.

“Despite the fact that you have your own vehicles, the jams can get worsen, you can’t reach the place on time, so the public transport agents such as the bus and train transport system must be taken place,” he added.

Phnom Penh keeps expanding, and without the public transports, he said the capital will definitely face a worse situation.

Phnom Penh City Timelapse


Phnom Penh independence monument by Bart Geesink
Firework in Phnom Penh by Andrew Wilson

Video: Phnom Penh City Timelapse by dav363

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  1. Teka says

    Companies should change timetable. For instance, they should finish their job 5:30 or 6 o’clock by starting late 30 minute.

    • osify says

      Mine as well, start at 9AM, finish at 7PM, it’s still a bit hard, mostly I leave between 7 & 7:30pm at my area.

      Difficult time mostly from 7AM to 8:30AM, 11AM to 1PM, 4:30PM to 6PM and when some roads are block in some occasion.

      Beside the bad road condition, mostly is people’s behavior: not waiting in the queue

      The time spent to travel now need to extend from 30minutes to 1h in order to reach one side of PP to another side.

      Now people in PP are increasing more temper during traveling on the road (I think).

      We need solution, mine:

      * Increasing meditation on ourselves, release breath but not blaming on the people in road

      * Practice more waiting in the queue (so that we need to re-estimate the time to travel) since more and more vehicles now, more traffic light. Be patient.

      * Strengthen self-rule on respecting traffic sign on the road (day & night)

      for above basic self practice, we can at least, don’t bring ourselves into traffic stress.

  2. KD says

    I think most people in general do not respect traffic laws in Cambodia. They think they can get a way with murder because they have money and someone to rescue them when they committed traffic fatality others. I see that every day in the newspaper!

  3. Charlie Drowns says

    traffic jams in PP. People need to be a licensed in order to operate a car and /or a motorbike. People need to take a test on driving before getting a license. When I was in PP no-one stopped for red lights and at no time did thy know to give someone the Right of Way or Yield to another vehicle

    • says

      hi Charlie, 

      The situation is better now for the traffic light, I think the main point is to improve our road infrastructures, and still need more people to respect the traffic law and understand each other. 

      • Spigzy says

        Traffic lights cause traffic jams, far better to allow traffic to flow freely with roundabouts wherever possible – especially in a country where road law is generally ignored.  The road laws (yes, I have read them!) of Cambodia seem to be based on more developed countries laws which is admirable, but with that there is no real driving test, nor is there a proper annual vehicle maintenance check as found in other countries. There are many vehicles on the road that could be removed as they are completely unroadworthy – no/broken lights, bent axles/driveshafts, makeshift vehicles connected to motos.  There is so much room for improvement, and a simple annual vehicle check like the MOT in the UK would be a great starting point for the government to remove excess/dangerous vehicles from the roads and thus also remove congestion.   Final point is about the police – these guys seem to cause more traffic jams than they fix; particularly when taking their facilitation payments from truck drivers – pulling them to one side and blocking an entire lane for a few seconds and generally causing mayhem behind them.  The number of times I’ve seen busy traffic with no police, but everything moves, is much higher than the number of times I’ve seen busy traffic with police – traffic never moves!  Big kudos for the policeman I saw this morning though – helping a monk cross the road at Steung Meanchey intersection – top bloke!

        • says

          Thank Spigzy for your inputs.

          I believed now we stop import car made before 1999 or something I don’t remember the exact year.

          According to the law, each vehicle need to get checked yearly. We have a signed indicated the expiration of the check period. 

          There are good cops and bad corps, there are corps that spend all their day long to take money from the Taxis, Trucks, Containers … I saw it everyday during my lunch time.

          This is something Gov need to find a solution. 


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