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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

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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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Phuket

Palang Pracharath MP chastises Karon Police for not offering protection during condo visit

The Thaiger

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Palang Pracharath MP chastises Karon Police for not offering protection during condo visit | The Thaiger

VIDEO & SCREENGRAB: M Today

The Palang Pracharath member of parliament from Bangkok, Sira Jenjaka, had an argument with Lt Col Pratuang Polmana, Deputy Superintendent of Karon Police during his inspection to the controversial Peak Condominium in the Karon area of Phuket.

MP Sira was surveying the construction site of the project and the sales office, which also serves as a coffee shop, where he saw Lt Col Pratuang inside.

He stopped there and asked why the Deputy Superintendent didn’t send any officer from Karon Police Station to provide security for him, a standard protocol when parliament members visit a specific area.

The MP had publicly stated he had received death threats for revealing ‘problems’ with the ‘paperwork’ for the Phuket condo project that he claims has been built on land without the proper documentation.

Lt Col Pratuang said that he already prepared a team of officers to provide security for the MP but they were waiting for a confirmation. Then the MP asked his team to record a video of the conversation and said that, while he was not threatening anyone, he believed the police must respect and offer protection for a government MP who comes to work in the area, which was then followed by an argument.

There was a “middleman” who eventually separated the Deputy Superintendent and pulled him aside to calm him down. The ‘police whisperer’ then came back to apologise to the MP before they went inside the coffee shop for further private talks.

Read the original article about the allegations against Peak Condominiums in Karon HERE.

Palang Pracharath MP chastises Karon Police for not offering protection during condo visit | News by The Thaiger

The Peak Condominiums in Karon, currently under investigation after allegations made by Government MP Sira Jenjaka, who claims death threats have been made against him over the matter.

 

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Patong

How to be charged 2,600 baht for having a flat battery in the Jungceylon car park

Tim Newton

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How to be charged 2,600 baht for having a flat battery in the Jungceylon car park | The Thaiger

A rant…

Started off with trying to exit the Jungceylon carpark in Patong, Phuket, late on a Sunday night. After watching a film in their tawdry cinemas, I was assured by ticket sales staff that I should present my ticket stub with the car park card for free exit.

Getting to the exit gate and I was told I had to go to an ‘elevator’ to get my ticket stamped. As there were already three other cars behind me (it was around 9.30pm at this stage), it caused quite a kerfuffle and tempers (mine included) were starting to fray.

The poor woman at the exit booth (whose key work skill must be ‘patience’), kept yelling ‘elevator, elevator’, doing little to inform us what we were actually meant to do. (I wanted to leave a car park, not go on an elevator?!?).

Anyway, minor ‘misunderstanding’ sorted out soon enough, and returned to my car to exit the car park (about 10 minutes later).

A Russian man had had his own adventures with the Jungceylon car park the night before. Firstly he was stuck there on the Saturday night with a flat battery in his white sedan. As it was very late, and wanting to get home, he left the car in the space and took a taxi.

As I was sorting out my own car park ‘misunderstanding’, other car park staff assisted him with his flat battery by jump starting his car. The assisting staff were given a gratuity, I don’t know how much.

But on reaching the exit gate he was told he had to pay 1,800 baht. (Presumably for around 24 hours of car parking).

With his fist full of receipts, around 3,300 baht worth, he was also told ‘elevator, elevator’. He got out of his car, there were another three cars backed up behind him at this stage, and went to find the ‘elevator’. Upon returning he was now told he had to pay 2,600 baht! How the amount had magically inflated to 2,600 baht remains a mystery but the cark park ‘gatekeeper’ was not to be messed with.

By this stage about eight young Thai gentlemen, with name tags, keys hanging from their belts and hand-held radios, had turned up to ‘assist’ in addressing my complaints and ensuring that the Russian man was not able to leave the car park before paying the 2,600 baht. The only common language among the Russians and the Thais in the situation was English and it was not going well.

Google Translate was getting a fine workout but wasn’t really helping.

During the extended ‘negotiations’ the cars behind were detoured around and allowed free exit.

Given the man’s travails in having a flat battery, having to come back to the steamy car park late on a Sunday night, the cars piling up behind him and the loss of face for just about everyone at this stage, the ‘smart’, good PR thing to do would have been to thank him for spending 3,300 baht at their expensive shopping centre, lifted the boom gate and waved him on his way.

But no, these young Thai car park staff wanted their pound of flesh and there was no way in the world that barrier was going to be lifted until the man had paid every baht he ‘owed’. Three police turned up to try and sort things out but all departed in exasperation, knowing the car park staff were being pig-headed but unable to intervene because they would have caused their fellow Thais a loss of face.

At this stage the Thai car park staff were already starting to utter things under their breath and spitting out ‘farang’ in their deliberations.

During the entire two hour drama many other cars had the same issue of not understanding that they needed to report to the bottom of one of the ‘elevators’ to have their receipts stamped. There didn’t appear to be any signage or understanding of the procedure (until, of course, you go through this rather drawn out lesson in Jungceylon car park procedure). There was a sign outside the elusive ‘elevator’ but given there are seven other exits from the car park you’re unlikely to see them.

Apart from Jungceylon losing the patronage of at least two, or more, customers over their overly-officious and unprofessional behaviour, the system will surely remain unfixed waiting for the next stupid ‘farang’ to stroll innocently into the underground farrago.

The only bright light in the dingy car park fiasco was the pleasant young gentlemen sitting at the ‘elevator’ with his stamps and gracious smile, wearing full eye make up and blissfully unaware of the surly car park Nazis. He profusely apologised but I am fairly sure he was none-the-wiser about my lengthy explanation of the situation.

Give the man a pay rise!

For Jungceylon, I would urge better signage, in a few languages (it IS a tourist town), to inform us about their rather opaque car park procedures.

I did ask for a statement to include in this story from some of the ‘people with hand radios’ or a comment from the Manager. But there was none forthcoming. Our forum remains wide open for a response from management.

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Patong

Phuket’s lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Lifeguard Service

A commemoration ceremony has been held for Prathaiyuth Chuayuan, a local Phuketian who helped drive Phuket’s first beach lifeguard services. He passed away on Friday morning after a heart attack.

He first experienced chest pains whilst delivering his daughter to school in Phuket Town on Friday morning, drove himself immediately to the Vachira Hospital nearby but succumbed to cardiac arrest around 9am.

He was 57 years old.

He worked with Australian lifesavers to help train local lifeguards and improve the skills of the Phuket’s beach enthusiasts, and finally sought international accreditation for the growing body of competent Phuket lifeguards.

The Phuket Lifeguards Service, founded and run by Prathaiyuth and his wife Witanya, saved innumerable lives each year whilst battling Provincial Hall and local government for increased funding in annual contract negotiations.

Daren Jenner, a FOT (Friend of The Thaiger) and local safety officer for the International Surf Lifesaving Association, sent a message to us expressing his deepest condolences to Prathaiyuth’s wife, family and friends.

“I had many good conversations with him over the years. He was a good-hearted man who did his best in difficult and changing circumstances. A very big loss for Phuket and the lifesaving community here. ISLA sends our deepest respect for his long commitment to ocean safety in SE Asia.”

Phuket's lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety | News by The Thaiger Phuket's lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety | News by The Thaiger Phuket's lifeguards say goodbye to a champion of local beach safety | News by The Thaiger

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