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Phuket

Patong split over tunnel plan

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Patong residents are divided over the controversial plan to bore a road tunnel under Patong Hill, a recent public hearing revealed.

Local residents voiced their opinions on April 27 when a public hearing on the issue was held at the Phuket Graceland Resort.

Around 700 residents, municipal officers from Patong and Kathu, the project development team and other stakeholders attended the hearing.

Phuket Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop, who chaired the hearing, said the tunnel was needed for both infrastructure and safety reasons.

The tunnel is a ‘necessary facility to welcome tourists’ that will facilitate traffic flow between Kathu and Patong and prevent up to 500 road accidents each year, he said.

At the meeting, local residents listened to development plans presented by a project study team made up of members from Epsilon Co Ltd, PlanPro Corp Ltd, and the Energy and Environmental Engineering Center (EEEC).

The team presented a progress report on their feasibility study of six possible routes under consideration. Criteria included funding and engineering factors, as well as projected effects on the local economy, traffic flow and environment. Social factors and the level of public participation were also considered.

Taking all these into account, the team announced its recommendation: two 1.17-kilometer tunnels with elevated roads at both ends.

One tunnel would be for two lanes of westbound traffic, the other for two lanes eastbound.

Approaching Patong Hill from Kathu, traffic would divert near the Go Kart Speedway on Phra Barami Road (Route 4029) onto an elevated road leading up to the tunnel.

Traffic would emerge on the Patong side onto a 204-meter-long elevated road that would pass over Phisit Gorani Road in Baan Mon and connect to Phang Muang Sai Kor Rd near the APK apartment complex.

Around 300 of those in attendance, mostly business operators, rallied around a cloth banner that read: ‘We support the tunnel project’.

However, opposed to the proposal were a similar number of Baan Mon residents sporting T-shirts with ‘Baan Mon doesn’t want the tunnel’ printed on the back.

The tunnel would adversely affect the community, with some families having to give up their land for construction of the elevated roadway that would pass over parts of their village, they said.

Another point was that the proposed path of the elevated road was over the Ratchapathanusorn (the National Memorial of His Majesty The King’s Footprint) on Phisit Gorani Road.

The site commemorates HM The King’s visit to Patong on March 11, 1959.

Villagers were also concerned about the toll fees to cover the construction cost of the tunnel, which is estimated to exceed one billion baht.

Assistant project manager Siriprapha Ratiwat said that disagreements will be noted in the report. The next step is be to examine possible effects on the local community and hold meetings with villagers, she said.

“In November we will conclude our study and submit our report to Patong Municipality. Then it’s up to the people of Patong to decide whether or not they want this project,” she said.

For an in-depth report, pick up a copy of the Phuket Gazette on newsstands this Saturday.

— Pimwara Choksakulpan

 

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

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

12 Covid-19 violators busted drinking on Patong Beach

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: A group drinking on the beach was arrested for violating Covid-19 restrictions. (via Freepik)

12 violators of Covid-19 restrictions, of Thai and foreign origin, have been arrested and taken into custody by police for gathering and drinking in public on Patong Beach. The Covid-19 measures currently in place in Phuket ban all get-togethers involving alcohol, limiting the number that can drink together to just 2 people. The group were arrested for violating this order and for drinking in public.

According to the police the group had 3 foreign men in it along with 5 Thai women and 3 Thai ladyboys, so for those keen at maths the details of the 12th person were not revealed. The Covid-19 rule violators were arrested Friday night in Patong on the walkway along the beach on Thaweewong Road, the popular beachfront road.

Police noted the specifics of their liquor stash, confirming that the group had 2 bottles and 8 cans of Thai beer, 2 imported beers, 4 wine coolers, 4 soda waters, and 2 bottles of Thai liquor. The stash was confiscated by the police.

The perpetrators were brought to Phuket town to the Phuket City Police Station. There they were met by the Phuket Vice governors and medical personnel from Vachira Phuket Hospital. The medics administered swab sample Covid-19 test to each member of the group of restriction violators.

The Vice Governor reminded people that these restrictions were put in place after more than 20 people tested positive for Covid-19 from a small group of people drinking together. That is why the regulations allow just two people together when alcohol is involved. He stressed that police and government officials have been instructed to crack down on violators to try to quickly curb the spread of Covid-19 for a chance at reopening to international tourism July 1st.

Officials asked the public to work together to attempt to eliminate the spread of Covid-19 in Phuket and instructed anybody who sees violators of the Covid-19 restrictions to contact the police immediately. Sentence and fine details were not yet available for the group of 12.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 mask violators in Phuket forced to exercise

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Pushups instead of a 6,000 baht fine at a Phuket checkpoint yesterday. (via video screenshot)

For those who have more pounds on their body than pounds in their pocket, exercise punishment seen in Phuket yesterday for mask violators may or may not be welcome. Officials have walked back the strict 6,000 baht punishment for the first warning against someone not wearing a mask and were spotted forcing those who have gone out without a mask to do exercise on the street.

The people forced to exercise were at a Covid-19 checkpoint in the Rawai subdistrict, where the Chalong Police along with local medical workers were checking people yesterday. The checkpoint was set up in an effort to push one hundred per cent mask compliance to stop the spread of Covid-19 on Phuket.

Not only were they checking everyone who passed by to make sure they had their masks, but also to correct those who were wearing their masks improperly. We’ve all seen the people who seem to think that a mask on their chin or underneath their nose is somehow just as effective as a properly worn mask, or at least that they can get away with “wearing a mask” while limiting their personal inconvenience.

Officials were quick to point out that the overwhelming majority of people passing through the checkpoint, both foreigners and Thai, did have their masks with them and were wearing them properly. But they did catch more than 10 people not wearing their face mask or not using them correctly.

Authorities decided to let them off with a first soft warning by moving bodies instead of moving baht. Police made violators do exercise right there on the street in hopes of shaming them into making better decisions next time. All violators did have their names and details taken down with a promise that if they were caught again proper traditional fines would be handed down.

No word yet on any plans to make this punishment into a Tik-Tok Channel.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

 

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Tourism

Thai public health and tourism ministers on Phuket to push the July 1 Sandbox reopening

Tim Newton

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Bangkok has sent a couple of ministerial heavyweights to Phuket today to keep pushing the July 1 ‘Sandbox’ bandwagon, insisting that Phuket will open to fully vaccinated tourists from July 1.

The Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul ,along with the Sports and Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, are doing the island PR tour today delivering a message from the PM Prayut Chan-o-cha who is confirming that Phuket will open to fully vaccinated international tourists from the start of July.

Phuket has continued to rack up between 10-20 new Covid infections each day over the past week and still has hundreds of people listed as ‘active cases’. As of today 22% of the island has been vaccinated.

The original Phuket Sandbox model was intended to be quarantine-free. That issue was not made clear during today’s PR trip from the 2 ministers. The full details of how Phuket will open to international tourists, how those tourists might get to Phuket, or where they will visit on an island with its tourist infrastructure shutdown, have not been provided at this stage. It has also not been discussed how long the international tourists will have to remain on Phuket before travelling to other parts of the country.

The Phuket Governor welcomed the prime ministerial delegation to Provincial Hall at lunchtime saying that Phuket would progress with its plans to launch the Phuket Sandbox from July 1.

“All stakeholders who are frontline warriors working to solve the problem of the Covid epidemic situation have earned the goodwill and concern from Prayut Chan-o-cha, who also believes that Phuket is ready to prepare for the opening of the Phuket Tourism Sandbox on July 1 for sure.”

Phuket Province generated several hundreds of billions of baht of income for the country per year and Thailand relies heavily on tourism income. Indeed, second to Bangkok, Phuket was the government’s golden goose delivering decades of high tourism receipt returns.

Speaking to The Phuket News, Anutin said…

“The government is ready to act as soon as possible. This has been clearly proved, such as by the large number of vaccine doses that Phuket has been allocated to vaccinate the people in the area to cover all groups and be as safe as possible as the ‘Phuket Model’.

“When the economy is good, everyone gets better, so use patience to believe that good things will follow”.

Another 100,000 Sinovac vaccines arrived on the island to be formerly handed over today by Minister Anutin. An additional 100,000 doses will arrive on Tuesday.

AstraZeneca vaccines are also due to arrive from June, daily reserved for people over 60 years old or people who have other health conditions which require the AZ vaccine instead of the Chinese manufactured Sinovac.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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