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Patong Tunnel compensation for evicted Phuket villagers jumps to B2.56bn

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Patong Tunnel compensation for evicted Phuket villagers jumps to B2.56bn | The Thaiger

PHUKET: The funds for compensating Phuket landowners who would be displaced by the construction of the Patong Tunnel have more than doubled, jumping from 1 billion baht to 2.56bn baht.

The Chief Inspector-General of the Ministry of Transport, Somchai Chanrod, made the announcement in Phuket earlier this week.

It was not clarified whether the government had expanded the number of families to be compensated or increased the payments for those already on the compensation list.

The government said 20 families would need to be compensated for giving up their land at a public feedback hearing last April. However, local residents said the number was closer to 80.

At the time, Patong Mayor Pian Keesin said that the1bn baht compensation was somehow reasonable (story here).

At a transportation conference held at Phuket International Airport on Tuesday, Mr Somchai explained how the 9.57bn baht budget was to be allocated: 6.80bn for materials, 2.56bn for land expropriation and 200mn baht for salaries.

Mr Somchai acknowledged that local residents had in the past objected to the project, but said he had been told that “they have no problem with the project anymore”.

“They were worried about dust from construction and the risk of landslides. However, when we explained what kind of drilling machine we would be using, they changed their minds. The Diamond Coring machine makes drilling easy and doesn’t raise a lot of dust,” he said.

However, at the public hearing last year, it was environmental issues and the loss of ancestral land that were the main concerns voiced by residents.

“Patong Municipality has studied only how and where to build the tunnel. They have not studied the effect on the environment and local residents,” said Jamras Aiemsaard, a resident of the Baan Mon community, which is located where the tunnel is planned to enter Patong.

In interviews with the Phuket Gazette in January last year, Baan Mon villagers claimed that 90 per cent of local residents were strongly against the tunnel project, as they believed it would require the eviction of nearly 500 people (story here).

At that time, residents had not been told how much they would receive for their land, but some said that regardless of the price offered, they would not leave.

“Even if they give us the Patong price, we still wouldn’t leave because this is our ancestors’ land,” said Thachapol Kamintong, who owns a four-rai rubber plantation on the hill through which the tunnel will run.

Resident Boonlert Winyantikul agreed. “We need to stay in our ancestral home. If our land is expropriated, what will we do next, and where will we go?”

Mr Somchai on Tuesday stressed that the tunnel was needed for safety.

“There are too many accidents on Patong Hill, caused by a variety of reasons: brake failure, the way the road was engineered and lack of experience of drivers,” he said.

“The best way to solve the problem is to build a tunnel.”

However, the Gazette‘s current poll, which asks readers, “What is the best way to prevent further deadly bus accidents on Patong Hill?” does not support Mr Somchai’s conclusion.

The option of “better trained drivers” led the charge, backed by almost 52 per cent of voters. The option “Build the Patong Tunnel” came in a far second, garnering only 19.7 per cent of votes. (To have your say click here.)

Nonetheless, Mr Somchai said the study period for the Patong Tunnel project would end this year, and he anticipated that it would take another year to pass the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

“I expect we will consider the project for the 2017 budget,” he said.

Mr Somchai said his only concern was the possibility of new construction and development in the proposed tunnel area.

“If there is new construction there, we may need to raise the compensation budget,” he said.

He vowed to push the tunnel project through as quickly as he could.

— Saran Mitrarat

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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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Crime

Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft

Greeley Pulitzer

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Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Patong Police

Patong Police have yet to develop any tangible leads tracking down a foreigner who made off with US$30,000 in cash from a currency exchange booth in Kalim, north of Patong in Phuket, last Tuesday.

The man is about 168 centimetres tall with grey hair and around 60 years old, Patong police told The Phuket News.

“We have no clue what nationality he is.”

He was last seen at the currency exchange booth wearing a purple polo shirt, blue jeans and black cap. Police have checked hotels in the area, police stations across the island and Phuket Immigration, but have yet to join the dots and come up with firm leads.

“Investigators have checked CCTV in the area and collected what evidence we have but we still do not know the man’s name or where he was staying.”

The man had visited the booth several times before Tuesday, when he disappeared with the $30,000 in US banknotes, according to police.

“It was always small amounts”, he added, noting that the amounts didn’t warrant staff at the exchange booth to check the man’s passport before making the exchange.

The man arrived at the booth again at about 1pm on Tuesday, saying that he had 900,000 baht cash to exchange.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Crime

Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room

The Thaiger

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Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Hot News

The security guard of a hotel in Nai Yang, northern Phuket, 52 year old Yingyot Butsabong, from Maha Sarakham province, was found dead yesterday (October 16) in his room. Police remain mystified how the man came to grief.

A woman named Supattra received a call from the hotel he worked at and was informed that he didn’t show up at work yesterday, so she went to his apartment to check on him.

She saw that his room was locked from the inside, so used the key she had in her possession to open the room and found Yingyot laying on the floor, face down. She thought he was just sleeping so she tried to wake him up but once she flipped him, she found that he already passed away.

She immediately called Saku police, and once on the scene, police found that there was some blood on the floor. The man had a 2 centimetre wound on his left eyebrow which was deep into his skull. There was also a wound on his chin about 1 centimetre long and about a centimetre deep. His left eye had a bruise which looked like he was attacked by a hard object.

Police report that he had been dead for around four hours in the room.

The room was not ransacked and there was no sign of fighting or theft. His body has been sent to Thalang Hospital for a detailed autopsy and to look into the cause of death.

SOURCE: Phuket Hot News

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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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