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Cabinet approves Phuket Bt2.6b convention center



Cabinet approves Phuket Bt2.6b convention center | Thaiger

PHUKET: Cabinet has approved plans for the long-awaited International Convention and Exhibition Center (ICEC) in Mai Khao to go ahead, with construction likely to get under way mid-2012.

That was the news at a public hearing for the mega-project held at the Phuket Merlin Hotel on Wednesday.

“Cabinet approved the project on September 28 after the Treasury Department sent the project on September 22,” said Pitak Direksunthorn, Director of Bureau of State Property Management 2 at the Treasury Department.

Under the current design, the 2.6-billion-baht center on the 150-rai plot of state land would include a convention hall, exhibition hall, 200-room hotel and a 100-room accommodation facility for government officers and staff.

However, the project’s plans are far from finalized.

“The EIA [environmental impact assessment] report by Phuket Rajabhat University, which is costing 11.5 million baht, should be finished by December this year,” said Mr Pitak.

“Then the plan is to go to the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) for review and recommendations around January next year,” he added.

It will take until April next year to have the final plans and to start seeking tenders. “I know of 11 construction companies interested in the project,” he said.

“It will then take until July to choose a construction contractor and the final plans have to be drawn up, which will take until about December 2011. Then another EIA must be conducted to assess the impact of the final design.

“Construction is likely to start in April 2012,” he concluded.

Mr Pitak said he expected construction of the project to take about 26 months at most. “But if it’s rushed, it will probably take about 22 months,” he said.

Mr Pitak also took the opportunity to clarify that the government will not be building hotels at the site.

“We’re building accommodation for conference organizers only. Some organizations have misunderstood that we will be building hotels, which would compete with local businesses. I guarantee that no hotels are included in the project,” he said.

Bhuritt Maswongsa, vice president of the Phuket Tourist Association, reiterated his call for project organizers to consider the many issues raised by the project, such as extra traffic, transportation to the other places on the island and less car parking.

Mr Bhurritt presented a slew of potential problems at a previous public hearing. For our report on that meeting, click here.

Sorranan Sanae, vice president of the Phuket Provincial Governance Committee, similarly warned against allowing the project to fall into decay in coming years. “We don’t want the project to end up like some previous 20- to 30-million-baht projects,” he said.

Phuket City Municipality Town Planner Prasert Temmas agreed. “The convention hall should be comparable with ones abroad, such as the convention hall in Dubai and the Sydney Opera House in Australia.”

— Atchaa Khamlo


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