Phnom Penh Prepares Roads for Arrival of World Leaders

Motorists should be prepared for road closures, traffic jams, detours and delays in the coming days as authorities ready Phnom Penh for the arrival of world leaders for the East Asia and Asean summits, officials said yesterday.

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This map shows roads in Phnom Penh that will experience closures during the Asean and East Asia summits, which run concurrently from November 18 to 20. (Colin Meyn/The Cambodia Daily)

Among the major road closures will be sections of Russian, Norodom and Mao Tse Tung boulevards, as well as “many other roads,” said National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith.

“The closures will depend on the security of the officials. We will try to be flexible and try to manage the traffic, but we must protect the delegations,” said Mr. Chantharith, adding that some sections of road will be closed temporarily as delegates travel to and from their hotels.

The East Asia and Asean summits run concurrently from November 18 to 20 at Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Peace Palace on Russian Boulevard. Among the expected attendees are U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“The roads will not be completely closed. We will just have to briefly close them when delegates pass by and when delegates leave their hotels,” Phnom Penh police chief Chuon Sovann said. “Our police and armed forces will direct traffic during these times.”

Yesterday, the Phnom Penh municipality closed the divides that motorists use to turn around on Russian and Monivong boulevards, after they had informed businesses on the two boulevards last week to close for business between November 13 and 23.

“Ten days is so long for my business to close, because we won’t sell any cars. Normally, when we’re open for 10 days, I’d earn, on average, $1,000,” said Mak Vannin, 36, who closed the car dealership he owns on Russian Boulevard, across the street from the Peace Palace.

About 1 km away on Street 92 at Raffles Hotel Le Royal, where Mr. Obama is expected to stay, access to the hotel will be slightly restricted.

“At this moment in time, we don’t anticipate anything being off limits. The Elephant Bar and the restaurant will be available, but [only] for advanced reservations over the main period of the summit,” Gareth Walters, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing said, declining to comment about Mr. Obama’s stay.

Mr. Chantharith said he did not know of any plans to close the streets in front of Raffles Hotel, which is about a block from the U.S. Embassy. “We are trying not to block so many roads so people can get around,” he said.

Across the street from the U.S. Embassy at Sunway Hotel, general manager Kelly Leong said he has heard of no road closures near the hotel and anticipates no trouble for guests. “We don’t have any heads of state staying with us. So, our level of security is pretty much the same as always and we are open to the general public,” he said.

Sean McIntosh, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy, has declined to discuss any preparations for the summits.

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