PM: new road could be a runway

Source: Khmer Times

An ariel view of the new road, which is 60 meters wide. Supplied

Prime Minister Hun Sen has asked Defense Minister General Tea Banh to study whether Phnom Penh’s biggest boulevard could be used for emergency plane landings.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the 60-meter wide Techo Hun Sen Blvd yesterday, Mr. Hun Sen suggested passenger planes and military aircraft could land on the road if necessary.
The road, which is 9.1 kilometers long, cost $76 million and took six years to construct, is part of the satellite city development known as ING City.
The development covers 2,572 hectares reclaimed from the Boeung Tompun wetlands about three to four kilometers south of Phnom Penh. It borders Chamkarmon, Meanchey and Dangkao districts.
“I have asked His Excellency Tea Banh to study the possibility of emergency landings on the road,” Mr. Hun Sen said, adding that planes unable to land at Phnom Penh International Airport now divert to Siem Reap, Ho Chi Minh or Bangkok.
If a plane was low on fuel and could not divert, “the best choice would be to land in this area,” the prime minister said.
“We need to study whether it is possible before carrying out a test-landing with our own military planes. These would not be fighter jets, but transportation aircraft,” Mr. Hun Sen said.
“It is just an idea for a contingency plan should a crisis arise.”
Mr. Hun Sen suggested installing LED lights on the road to illuminate the boulevard at night in case it did need to be used as a runway.
He claimed the plan would be unproblematic to carry out in theory, since the road is easily wide and long enough to cope with a passenger plane landing.
But Ear Chariya, the director of the Institute for Road Safety, said coordinating an evacuation of the road in an emergency could prove difficult, since it is likely to be congested with vehicles.
“If we decided to use it for an emergency landing that would seriously impact on the traffic,” he said, adding it would be difficult to block the road in advance of any plane arriving.
Mr. Chariya argued it was unlikely the road would ever be used as a runway since pilots of planes in distress need to make quick decisions and wouldn’t have time to inform traffic police.
A shut down of the road could be coordinated with one to two hours prior warning, but was “a very unlikely scenario,” he said.

Officials at the opening of Techo Hun Sen Boulevard yesterday. Supplied

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