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Gov pushes BKK to finalize light rail project

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Gov pushes BKK to finalize light rail project | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Phuket Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada is fed up.

After years of talking and planning a province-wide light rail project, Governor Chamroen is ready for officials to put up or shut up.

The governor has called on the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP) in Bangkok to sort things out in his office next week or dismiss the project entirely.

“The study plan started back when I was a vice governor,” the governor said during a Phuket Provincial Hall meeting with OTP representatives last Monday. “Now, I’m the governor and it’s still not done. So that’s it. I’ve had enough.”

The estimated 23-billion-baht project has been listed in the Ministry of Transport’s 2017 Action Plan, released earlier this month. For skeptics, being listed in the Action Plan is at least an indication that Bangkok is giving the light rail project serious consideration.

“I want this project to happen,” Gov Chamroen said. “The longer we wait, the worse it gets. Now our new airport is under construction and is about to be completed in September.”

“I just want to do something for my home town,” he added. “So, I’m encouraging everyone here to just talk through whether or not we’ll end up doing it. If not, we quit; we’re not wasting any more of our time. ”

The governor’s comments come after the Ministry of Transport requested the light rail project’s plans be drawn up again earlier this month, after raising safety concerns over roadway intersections with the proposed line.

“We’ll do a workshop in my office next week,” Gov Chamroen said. “I would like to be in charge of this project so I can pass on progress reports to the Phuket people directly. I want a summary of the whole system: the route, a rough estimate of the budget, all of it.

“I have no idea what you have discussed with Bangkok. I barely had any chance to join in the meetings. What I do know is that Phuket’s projects belong to Phuket’s people, not experts in Bangkok, or the Ministry of Transport. The people of Phuket will not have that,” he told the OTP reps

Gov Chamroen’s comments were echoed by Phuket Chamber of Commerce Secretary General Charan Sangsarn.

“I’ve received a lot of comments and questions regarding the light rail project,” he said. “So many people have asked me what is going on with the project, and I don’t know what to tell them. I can’t answer their questions because I have no idea what exactly is going on,” Mr Charan said.

During the meeting Phuket Highways Office Director Patiwetwottisak Sookhii stressed the need for continuing safety studies and taking the time to implement the project correctly.

“I’m concerned about two things: the safety of motorists and commuters – I want to see how the platforms work, how to get on and off – and whether or not this system is going to be more efficient,” Mr Patiwetwottisak said.

“We are currently in the middle of improving our main roads and increasing their traffic capacity. We are also working on improving the safety of our road crossings. So, when we talk about intersections with the light rail system, it’s worth taking our time over.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I want to see the planners being more active,” Mr Patiwetwottisak said.

“Please fix what you are asked to fix; this is something I do not really see happening. The Department of Highways fully supports this project, but again, I would like to make sure it is safe.”

Governor Chamroen agreed with Mr Patiwetwottisak’s comments, but said he doesn’t expect the project to be completed before the end of his tenure.

“Think about it this way: what does Thailand expect from Phuket? The government expects millions of travellers to come here every year,” Gov Chamroen said. “In three years, it’s very possible we’ll be getting 18 million visitors annually.”

Suthin Uthaithamrong, a member of Phuket’s Land Transport sub-committee, offered an explanation of the repeated delays in the planning process.

“From what I’ve heard, we are very close to completing the final plans for the rail system,” Mr Suthin said. “The rail will run through Koh Kaew from Phuket International Airport.”

“The route is a main corridor and would require at least one underpass and a flyover for the project to continue,” Mr Suthin said.

“This system requires a number of projects to be connected and we have to talk through how we’re going to accomplish that, otherwise we will just be wasting our time on something that will never be approved.”

Project manager and OTP secretary Sirigate Apirat said the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand will handle the project’s budgetary concerns while the OTP applies for an Environmental Impact Assessment after final plans are approved.

— Chutharat Plerin

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Phuket

Phuket police officer charged with attempted murder for shooting and critically injuring a noodle vendor

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket police officer charged with attempted murder for shooting and critically injuring a noodle vendor | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siamrath

The drunk, off-duty police officer in Phuket who has caught on camera shooting and beating a noodle vendor on Bangla Road is now facing attempted murder charges as well as charges of carrying a firearm in public without a necessary reason and firing a weapon in a public area. The commander of the Phuket police station said he ordered investigators to prosecute the officer Pornthep Channarong with every criminal charge that can be applied.

The officer had gotten into an altercation just before dawn yesterday and shot a young vendor who was walking by. Surveillance camera footage show the 25 year old suddenly falling to the ground after being shot. The officer walks up and shoots the vendor at a close range, but it appears the second shot did not hit the vendor. The officer also slapped the vendor in the face, picked him up and shoved him over, and then kicked him as he lay on the ground.

The vendor has a 4 year old daughter and 3 month old son. His wife says normally he works as a motorbike driver, but he was helping his mother selling noodles. He was shot while he was walking back from collecting a noodle bowl, she says. The vendor is in critical condition and being cared for at Vachira Phuket Hospital’s intensive care unit. He’s in need of Type B blood.

“For his condition, the doctor told me that the bullet went through his lung. He lost a lot of blood. We need a lot of Type B blood for him.”

A disciplinary investigation into the incident was launched by police and Pornthep was officially dismissed from the Royal Thai Police force. Region 8 Police Commander Kitrat Panpetch says the incident does not reflect the police force in Phuket.

“The incident was caused by an officer who did something wrong that our organisation does not want. We are a big organisation with more than 200,000 officers under our control. Our officers are not all bad like this.”

Phuket Provincial Police Commander Pornsak Nuannu says he has reminded the police chiefs across the island to discuss reasons for carrying firearms in public.

“Carrying firearms is to prevent any type of crime that may happen, not to commit a crime by themselves like this incident. If I see any police doing such a thing, I will decisively proceed in terms of both officer discipline and criminal charges.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Thai Vietjet resumes Phuket-Chiang Rai flights, launches promotion on air fare

The Thaiger

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Thai Vietjet resumes Phuket-Chiang Rai flights, launches promotion on air fare | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Vietjet

The following is a press release from Thai Vietjet on its new promotion “Welcome Back to the Sky” and the resumption of Phuket-Chiang Rai flights.

Thai Vietjet today announced the flight resumption of its domestic cross-regional service between Phuket – Chiang Rai, in response to the increasing travel demand after the government began relaxing travel measures in each province. The airline will resume the service for four (04) round-trip flights a week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, with the flight duration around 2 hours and 5 minutes, starting from 26 February 2021 onwards. The flight details are as follows:

Flight No.Departure from PhuketArrival at Chiang Rai Flight No. Departure from Chiang RaiArrival in Phuket
VZ4008:15am10:20amVZ40110:50am12:55pm

In addition, the airline also announced the resumption of other domestic cross-regional services including the flight between Hat Yai – Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai – Nakhon Si Thammarat from 19 March 2021 onwards.

Following the service resumption announcement, the airline launched special promotion “Welcome Back to the Sky”, offering special fares from just THB 99 (not inclusive of taxes, fees, surcharges, and add-ons) for Thai Vietjet’s flights between Phuket – Chiang Rai and the flights to/from Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi). The special fares are available for booking from 24 – 28 February 2021, with travel period between 8 March – 30 June 2021 on SkyFUN.vietjetair.com

As the COVID-19 situation is under control, Thai Vietjet has been adding flight frequency in line with the increasing demand for travel. The airline has also recently introduced its new product on SkyFUN, the ‘TRIP EASY PLUS’ – travel insurance with coverage of COVID-19 starting from THB 180, which provides further convenience and travel confidence to passengers to travel with the highest level of safety during the pandemic. For more information, please visit https://skyfun.vietjetair.com/insurance.

The promotional fares are available on SkyFUN.vietjetair.com, applied to Thai Vietjet’s domestic flights in Thailand from Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket, Krabi, Udon Thani, Hat Yai , Khon Kaen, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Ubon Ratchathani and the domestic cross-regional flight Phuket – Chiang Rai. The tickets are also available on all other distribution channels including www.vietjetair.com, mobile app “Vietjet Air”, via Facebook at facebook.com/VietJetThailand by clicking “Booking” tab, as well as travel agencies and booking offices. Payment can be easily made with ‘True Money Wallet’ and international debit/credit cards.

Thai Vietjet is committed to providing on time scheduled flights with the highest safety complied with the standards and regulations of the relevant authorities. Thai Vietjet was named the fastest growing low-cost airline in Thailand 2020 by The Global Business Outlook Award. The airline also owns one of the worlds newest and most modern fleet with an average age of only 2.7 years and was awarded the highest ranking for safety with 7 stars by the world’s only safety and product rating website airlineratings.com. The carrier has been strictly performing aircraft disinfection dailythroughout its fleet in compliance with Thai Ministry of Public Health.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

4 top tourist destinations to be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccine distribution

Maya Taylor

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4 top tourist destinations to be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccine distribution | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration says 4 of Thailand’s major tourism destinations are to be prioritised in the distribution of vaccines. They are Phuket, Chon Buri, Chiang Mai and Surat Thani. In addition, a further 9 provinces with significant infection numbers are being prioritised in the rollout of the first vaccine doses arriving in the Kingdom today.

Taweesin Visanuyothin from the CCSA says 70,000 doses will go to the hard-hit “highest control” area of Samut Sakhon, where Thailand’s second outbreak began late last year. 8,000 doses are being set aside for medical officials in the central province, along with 6,000 for frontline healthcare workers, 46,000 doses for seriously ill patients, and 10,000 doses for migrant workers and local residents.

Another 105,000 doses will be distributed to similar groups in Bangkok, in the central provinces of Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Songkram and Samut Prakan, and in the western province of Ratchaburi and the Mae Sot district of Tak.

The Pattaya News reports that 14,700 doses will be sent to 4 major tourist destinations, with 4,700 going to the eastern province of Chon Buri, 4,000 to the southern island of Phuket, 3,500 to the northern province of Chiang Mai, and 2,500 going to the island of Samui in the southern province of Surat Thani.

In the case of the vaccines going to tourism spots, it is not yet known which groups will be vaccinated first, with that decision being left to the Provincial Communicable Disease Committee and other related authorities.

Meanwhile, the CCSA says other plans for the 4 tourism destinations are being considered, including the possibility of “area quarantine”, which would allow vaccinated foreign arrivals to remain within certain boundaries during their quarantine period. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has been pushing for a vaccine passport policy for vaccinated visitors, while PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says the government may consider lifting quarantine restrictions for vaccinated tourists.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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