This rather barren section of the Yaza Htarni or ‘Royal City’ Road is one of a few unusual features of Naypyidaw နေပြည်တော်, Myanmar’s excessively dispersed capital; and connects the Burmese Parliament Building or ‘Hluttaw လွှတ်တော်’ to the old Yangon-Mandalay Highway ရန်ကုန် – မန္တလေးလမ်း that was finished circa 1970, long before the construction of the city had even been considered.

Outside of the Hluttaw and Presidential Palace နိုင်ငံတော်သမ္မတအိမ်တော်, Yaza Htarni dispenses with the central reservation, resulting in 20 lanes of pure uninterrupted tarmac and I’ve seen it speculated that this was so military aircraft could land if the occasion arose. I’m no aviation expert, but it seems to me that if this was the case, the straight section of Yaza Htarni would be much longer that the roughly 1km I can see before the road begins to curve. Much more likely in my opinion, is that it was designed this way as a means of accommodating the large ‘show of strength’ parades organised by the ruling Tatmadaw တပ်မတော်, who had obtained control of the state after staging a military coup prior to the planning of the city.

One lane would probably be enough to accommodate the current amount of traffic.
One lane would probably be enough to accommodate the current amount of traffic.

Naypyidaw is full of highways such as Yaza Htarni, which definitely seem like overkill for the current population, however when you consider that the city only started effectively functioning as the capital around 2009 when enough ministries had relocated, and was planned specifically for that purpose; it makes sense to plan out infrastructure in advance, that will be able to handle the expected population influx; avoiding the issue that older, more organically developed cities such as London and Paris have, whose road networks were never designed for the kinds of vehicles (and the sheer number of them) of the 21st century world.

The view from the (heavily guarded) gates of the Burmese Parliament building.
The view from the (heavily guarded) gates of the Burmese Parliament building.

Until Naypyidaw’s population significantly increases, the huge boulevards will undoubtedly remain something of an obscure novelty – give it a few decades however, and I think they’ll start to fill up and more effectively fulfil their original purpose – although this might unfortunately put an end to the drag races and games of football in the middle of the streets enjoyed by some Western tourists:

Although take it from me; if you don’t have a TV crew with you (and also presumably obtain permission), the police will politely, yet firmly ask you to leave if you stop in the middle of the street to arrange a picnic.

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