Fears of traffic chaos in Phnom Penh failed to materialize on Thursday as the city’s roads remained quiet and largely free of roadblocks despite earlier plans to divert private vehicles from arterial roads.
The Asean Summit, taking place this week through Sunday, had left Phnom Penh residents worried about potential gridlock after City Hall said traffic would be diverted from Russian Federation Blvd., National Road 6, Norodom Blvd. and Monivong Blvd., including at the southern Chbar Ambov bridge.
But on Thursday morning, private vehicles were allowed to freely enter Monivong rather than be sent to St. 271 as previously stated.
City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey said Thursday that the routes would only be “closed for a moment” when delegates’ convoys passed through.
During the morning, a significant police presence was seen along major roads, including armed officers stationed at key intersections. The Peace Palace on Russian Federation Blvd. as well as the Independence Monument on Sihanouk Blvd. were guarded by dozens of police officers.
However, the roads themselves were quiet, continuing the calm of the holiday period.
“The traffic in Phnom Penh is normal,” Measpheakdey said.
Om Kimhorng, a 48-year old tuk-tuk driver, said he had planned to stay home today fearing he wouldn’t be able to work due to traffic disruptions.
But he was surprised to see free-flowing cars and motos. “There isn’t traffic,” he said, adding that he had commuted by ferry from Arei Ksat.
Another resident, In Sreynich, said she was stuck for nearly two hours near Independent Monument during the morning waiting for convoys to pass.
“It was because they blocked the road. But I informed my workplace about this,” she recounted.
But the city did not seem to have as many people as normal, Sreynich said. She added that she had just returned to the city from her home province following the Water Festival period, which ended Wednesday.
Earlier this week, proposed traffic management measures left Phnom Penh residents worried about detours and roadblocks around key arterial roads toward the Chroy Changva peninsula, where the summit is hosted.
The Friday Women protest group said on Wednesday that it was putting off a plan to submit a petition to the U.S. Embassy because it did not think its members would be able to easily get to Phnom Penh from other provinces.
A road traffic expert said on Tuesday that he expected many Phnom Penh residents to stay away from the city through the summit in order to avoid traffic congestion.