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There apparently are laws against it, but vehicles overloaded with merchandise, produce and even Cambodians themselves ply Phnom Penh’s streets with impunity.
No one bats an eye at the spectacle, and it seems as those who ride or drive tuk-tuks, motorcycles and trucks or wagons of all sizes don’t worry much about safety.
There may be a few reasons for the phenomenon, which would horrify most residents of more developed countries.
Among the explanations that I can imagine are the cost of buying bigger vehicles, the expense of operating them, the width of many roadways that must be traversed and a long tradition of making do in a nation of great want.
Still, Cambodians perched on high loads, crammed (like cattle, I have to say) on truck beds or sitting precariously on construction materials invariably command my attention. I also find it hard to believe the reckless positioning of children on motos and the haphazard use of helmets, most of which purchased in Cambodia offer only a mirage of protection.
A few big trucks have been so laden with cargo this year that they have caused bridges to collapse. (The drivers normally flee in a bid, often successful, to avoid prosecution; they likely aren’t even licensed.) The government consequently has talked about deploying portable scales to check those transports, though the fantasy image amuses me of a driver peering over the hood at the weight as I do looking down on my on device every day.
In any case, I hardly hold myself out as the individual who is first to note the top-heavy phenomenon. Browsing a book store recently, I came upon an excellent compendium of big loads with photos far better than mine. You may want to pick up or order a copy by Chan Dara of Life in Cambodia, pictured here.
Regarding human passengers as cargo, I once published a photo that showed presumably two parents and their three children on a motorbike. Someone made the witty comment on this site that their own Western family had decided such maximum capacity seemed like a means of birth control. If so, it seems to be only marginally effective: I since have glimpsed too briefly for a photo a family of six on such a conveyance.
Although a number of highway deaths and accidents befall Cambodians — frequently garment workers and construction workers from the provinces — I do hope that the images below will entertain you even as they may leave you aghast. (As always, please click on them to enlarge.)