Road safety committee’s budget in need of significant injection

Transport Minister Sun Chanthol on Tuesday asked the government to increase the National Road Safety Committee’s annual budget to $2 million for it to effectively reduce the number of the traffic accident across the Kingdom.

Currently, NRSC has a yearly budget of $400,000 to work towards reducing traffic accidents.

Speaking to members of the committee at the Interior Ministry, Mr Chanthol, NRSC permanent vice chairman, said it needs the extra funds to effectively carry out its work.

“To reduce the number of traffic accidents, we need more funding,” he said. “Every year traffic accidents are causing loss of lives and damage amounting to about $350 million, but the NRSC only has $400,000 to work with towards reducing accidents.”

Mr Chanthol noted that the current budget is not sufficient for the committee to meet the UN target of reducing traffic accident deaths by 50 percent by the middle of next year.

“When we are losing $350 million to accidents each year and only have $400,000 to reduce them, I think it is not enough.” he said. “I wish to ask Samdech Sar Kheng [Interior Minister and NRSC chairman] to request for more funds from the Finance Ministry.”

Mr Chanthol noted that he has signed Memoranda of Understandings with two private companies which will each provide $100,000 per year for three years to the NRSC.

“We will use this money to buy crash helmets for people,” he said. “We need to lobby more private companies to sign MoUs with us in order to find more financial support.

“If we have enough funds, it will be easy for us to solve the problem of traffic accidents,” Mr Chanthol added. 

Mr Kheng earlier this week expressed concern that Cambodia may not be able to meet the UN’s goal of halving the number of fatal traffic accidents by the middle of next year.

In 2011, the UN set a goal to reduce traffic fatalities by 50 percent by mid-2020. Cambodia needs to reduce traffic accident deaths from 3,200 per year in 2010 to 1,600 per year in 2020.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday expressed his support for Mr Chanthol’s call to increase the NRSC budget to $2 million but he urged the committee to draft a specific master plan before making such a request to the government.

“I agree with him to increase the NRSC budget because its work is necessary to save our people’s lives,” he said. “But I think they should make a specific report and explain the situation to the Finance Ministry before getting consideration from Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen.”

Kin Phea, director general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, yesterday said he is not sure what kind of specific campaign the NRSC plans that requires so much extra funding.

“I think we still have existing resources to work on reducing traffic accidents,” he said. “We need to strictly implement the traffic law.”