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Phuket tollway and tunnel project, linking Kathu and Patong, awaiting approval

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Phuket tollway and tunnel project, linking Kathu and Patong, awaiting approval | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket People’s Voice

Phuket’s first ever tolled highway, to be built linking Kathu to Patong route, is awaiting approval from the government’s committee on public-private partnership. This will be the first ever tolled highway in Thailand that also allows motorcycles.

The infamous, and much-discussed, Patong Tunnel, and accompanying link roads, has been a slow-burn story over the past two decades, popping up with a new twist each year. Each time there is another round of studies, negotiations, plans and maps released to the media… then nothing.

This latest proposal would mean that the new highway, and access to the Patong Hill tunnel, would be tolled. The route is also a variation from the proposal in the past.

The Director of Expressway Authority of Thailand, or EXAT, says he will visit Phuket to follow up with the progress on the Kathu-Patong highway, a 4 kilometre long highway with a budget of 14 billion baht. He will also meet and talk to locals about the process to expropriate lands for the project in order to make the least impact on them.

The project is now waiting for the approval from the government committee overseeing public/private partnership funding for the project.

After the PPP’s approval, the papers will be filed to cabinet for final budget approval. Meanwhile, the EXAT is issuing a royal decree zoning the land planned for expropriation in Patong and Kathu. They’ve already sent officials from the land office to discuss with the local authorities to use the public land and try to avoid private land as much as possible.

The local authorities are being largely positive as the highway will provide a lot of benefits to Phuket, taking a lot of traffic from side roads and linking two of the busiest areas in the island.

Some areas fall under national park zoning and officials are discussing with the forestry department about taking over a small portion of this land to avoid disturbing local communities along the proposed route. The route would take the traffic in a different direction than the current route across Patong Hill and along Phra Phuket Kaen Road, instead going through the mountain south of the current Patong Hill Road and through current forest areas to relink with the By-Pass Road.

Local land agreements will be made soon before filing to the Ministry of Transport, then to the cabinet.

Phuket People’s Voice reports that the current schedule is to start building the highway next year, to be ready in 2021. But proposed start dates have come and gone many times in the past.

The project’s starting point connects with Phra Metta Road in Patong, passes over Pisit Koranee Road, all the way to the mountain (Patong Hill) for 0.9 km, then there is a tunnel (the tunnel!!!!!) through the mountain for 1.85 kilometres followed by a highway for 1.23 kilometres, that finishes in Kathu connecting with highway route 4029.

There will be 6 lanes, 3 lanes on each side. The left lane will be constructed as social motorcycle lane. This is the initiative from local authorities to allow motorcyclists on the highway to solve traffic problem and reduce accidents on the current route 4029 which connects Phuket town, Kathu and Patong.

This highway is also expected to be an evacuation route in case of urgent evacuations.

The construction of a tunnel between Patong and Kathu has been a talking point for two decades.

SOURCE: เสียงประชาชน คนภูเก็ต Phuket People’s Voice

Phuket tollway and tunnel project, linking Kathu and Patong, awaiting approval | News by The Thaiger

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Crime

Motorcycle thieves arrested in Patong

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Motorcycle thieves arrested in Patong | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Newshawk Phuket

Patong Police arrested three men in the seaside city with motorbikes that had been stolen. It appears the group has been stealing motorcycles around Patong since November 20.

The group was spotted stealing a motorcycle on Phra Metta Road in Patong. After further investigation and inspection of CCTV it was discovered that the gang conducted their thefts in the early morning and just on one side of the road.

They were taken to Patong police station for further investigation and prosecution.

SOURCE: Newshawk Phuket

Motorcycle thieves arrested in Patong | News by The Thaiger

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Crime

‘Coconut Water Gang’ arrested for trafficking children in Phuket

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‘Coconut Water Gang’ arrested for trafficking children in Phuket | The Thaiger

PHOTO: mgronline.com

“The child told him that a gang gathered some kids and forced them to sell coconut water and would beat them up sometimes.”

Patong police have announced the arrest of the ‘Coconut Water Gang’. There were four suspects from Nakohn Si Thammarat. The gang was accused of trafficking children by forcing them to roam the streets of Patong selling coconut water. There were four suspects in the case – Wattakarn Aramsee, Khemmika Uppakankaew, Pornthep Uppakankaew and Wachira Poonchuay, who have all been charged with human trafficking.

On October 28, the Phuket District Chief and his secretary identified a child of 10-13 years old walking into the Muang Phuket District Office selling coconut water. The child looked very thin and dirty so they asked the child what happened. The child told him that a gang gathered some kids and forced them to sell coconut water and would beat them up sometimes.

Manager Online reports that the team of police and Phuket Office of Social Development and Human Security, as well as Phuket Children and Family Shelter investigated the child story before taking the child to the shelter. Police also followed up by issuing an arrest warrant.

The suspects from the arrest warrant reacted to this incident by reporting the case to Damrongtham Center in Nakhon Si Thammarat and held a press conference saying that the officers do not have right to keep the child in their custody. They already reported to the Nakhon Si Thammarat police and said that there was no progress.

They also said they will sue Phuket police as well. Following the matter, PM Gen Prayuth Chan-Ocha and Deputy PM Gen Prawit Wongsuwan urged the department involved from Bangkok to investigate the case.

Pol Lt Gen Jaruwat Waisaya, chief of the Royal Thai Police’s Office of Legal Affairs and Litigation, said that the children are underage and were used to sell heavy packs of coconut water and coerced to work more than 10 hours per day.

“They also got abused sometimes. This is unacceptable and we would like to announce that this human trafficking in Phuket must be completely suppressed within few days. This gang forced children to roam around selling coconut water from 7am – 1pm and from 1.30pm – 6pm.”

The price was 40 Baht per pack. The children would hold at least 10 packs of coconut water per person per time. Someday, they can make about 400 Baht and the money would be taken to their families in Nakhon Si Thammarat. If the children wanted to spend the money, it would be deducted from their income. When they returned late or didn’t meet the daily target, they would be “punished”.

Each of them stayed at Saphan Hin village and repeated their routine every day. They made about 6 digits of income for the gang.

From the investigation, the children said that the coconut water wasn’t real coconut water. It was just water mixed with syrup and sugar. There was just a little amount of coconut water in each pack. Also, on November 9, police found four children selling snacks and fruits on the street. The first one was brought by the grandmother to sell snacks in front of a bar in Patong, the second one was brought by the mother to sell flowers at a restaurant in Patong, the third one was brought by the father-in-law to sell floral garlands at a BBQ shop in Soi Ta-Iad and the fourth ones was brought by the sister to sell flowers at a Som Tum shop in Phuket Town.

There was a 63 year old Cambodian man and a 23 year old woman illegally selling items in Phuket town area as well.

‘Coconut Water Gang’ arrested for trafficking children in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: mgronline.com

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Patong

Foreign woman saved from drowning at Patong Beach, Phuket

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Foreign woman saved from drowning at Patong Beach, Phuket | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Achadtaya Chuenniran

A foreigner, either Swiss or Russian, has been plucked out of the water at Patong Beach, early this morning morning, before sunrise.

The incident occurred opposite the beach road post office, according to tourist police.

An Ethiopian, named as ‘Ephrem’, told police that he found the woman lying face down and unconscious in the shallows just metres from the shore. He told police he pulled her out of the water and called a lifeguard to help. A Thai lifeguard was able to revive the woman who was then rushed to Patong Hospital, and later transferred to Vachira Hospital.

Local Jurairat Suwannawong told police that she had been coming to the beach just before sunrise over the past five days, and “usually appeared to be drunk”, according to a report in the Bangkok Post.

A 36 year old Ukrainian woman arrived at the hospital and was able to identify the woman as Natalia Stravtseva Bahni, claiming she was a friend.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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