Hun Sen: New road could be emergency runway

Hun Sen: New road could be emergency runway

An aerial view of the new road, which is 60 metres wide. (Supplied photo via Khmer Times)

PHNOM PENH – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has asked Defence Minister Gen 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-metre wide Techo Hun Sen Blvd on Monday, Mr Hun Sen suggested passenger planes and military aircraft could land on the road if necessary. 

The road is 9.1 kilometres long, cost US$76 million and took six years to construct. It is part of the satellite city development known as ING City, the Khmer Times  reported.

The development covers 2,572 hectares reclaimed from the Boeung Tompun wetlands three to four kilometres 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 transport 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 said there should be no problems in theory since the road is wide and long enough to cope with a passenger plane landing.

But Ear Chariya, the director of the Institute for Road Safety, said coordinating the clearance of the road in an emergency could prove difficult since it would likely be crowded with vehicles.

Mr Chariya argued it was unlikely the road would ever be used as a runway since pilots of planes in distress needed to make quick decisions and would not have time to inform traffic police.

To shut down the road would require one to two hours prior warning. It was “a very unlikely scenario”, he said.

Officials at the opening of Techo Hun Sen Boulevard on Monday. (Supplied via Khmer Times)

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