PHUKET: The long-drawn-out project to complete the highway from Phuket Town to the Sarasin Bridge has once again been brought to a standstill by disputes over compensation to land-owners. Visut Maiwatana, chief of the Phuket Highway Sub-district Office, and the civil servant in charge of the highway, explained that the billion-baht, 38-kilometer project was originally due to be completed by Nopawongs Construction Co in April last year. The contractor was granted a 180-day extension until October 13, 1999, because of difficulties caused by foreign currency exchange rates. A second six-month extension was granted, for the same reason, taking the completion date to April 10, 2000. In April, yet another extension was granted, this time for 114 days, because of disputes over compensation for land-owners whose property would be appropriated for the road. That took the completion date to August 2 this year. K. Visut, apologizing to the people of Phuket, said that a new target for completion has now been set, in February next year. In the meantime, a request for extra funds to compensate land-owners has been sent to the Department of Highways in Bangkok. He declined to say how much extra funding would be involved.
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