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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Families ask for clarity on airport plan

Thma Kul villagers protest outside the Council of Ministers yesterday demanding a resolution to a land dispute over the expansion of Phnom Penh International Airport.
Thma Kul villagers protest outside the Council of Ministers yesterday demanding a resolution to a land dispute over the expansion of Phnom Penh International Airport. Pech Sotheary

Families ask for clarity on airport plan

Representatives of 531 families potentially affected by Phnom Penh International Airport’s expansion yesterday asked the Council of Ministers to speed up resolution of the land dispute, which has languished for four years already.

Representative Kong Phalla said the affected people had put together a book discussing the impact of the expansion and estimated compensation deserved, and submitted it to the Council of Ministers.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said on March 16 that the airport would not expand to the surrounding properties, but the demonstrators have demanded official confirmation and land titles.

They also asked whether they could renovate their properties. “People whose houses are dilapidated have not repaired their houses,” community representative Phuong Sopheap said.

If the expansion was planned on their land, they would leave as soon as they get their compensation, he said.

The Council of Ministers adviser in charge of complaints, Seng Savorn, said that he will pass the request to the government. Soy Samkhan, the airport director, declined to comment.

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Don Rennie's picture

Dear Sotheary,

The bigger picture that no one talks about is this: The airport has only one runway (mediocre for an International Airport) and the airport location is near the center of the city creating aircraft noise with takeoffs and landings and traffic issues. These issues will only get worse.

Furthermore, the airport land is limited in size.

In 10-20-30 years, this airport will lose its usefulness and become so crowded that a new airport should be planned for NOW.

Has the government selected a new site? No way. This government does not know how to look into the future to solve today's problems.

Critical thinking demands looking into the future to mitigate and limit current problems. The expressway idea was merely a band-aid approach to traffic congestion along Russian Blvd. and not useful to the city of Phnom Penh in the long run.

Save the money earmarked for the airport expressway. Use this money to find a new airport site that can accommodate two runways and a passenger terminal that will be useful for decades to come. The new site might be located near highways 3, 4, or 6. Maybe other locations will be deemed more suitable.

Learn to think ahead. Consider Vietnam. They want to build an airport 40 km from Saigon. Good thinking. Japan has expressed interest in providing ODA assistance for the project.

But first, the royal government should commission a master planner to study options for a new airport location that can be put into commercial use in 20 years. This means construction begins in 15 years. This means the land must be clear of people in 14 years. The current airport land can be sold to developers to partially pay for a new airport.

Is the current government smart or clever enough to do this? In my view the government is not a smart group. Let's see.

DR

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