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Phuket Governor calls for public transport to resolve traffic jams

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Governor calls for public transport to resolve traffic jams | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Phuket Governor Maitri Inthusut has called for officials to ramp up efforts to develop Phuket’s pitiful public transport options as the top way of beating the island’s ever-increasing traffic congestion.

Speaking at a public seminar at the Pearl Hotel in Phuket Town last Saturday, held by the Phuket Real Estate Association specifically to discuss Phuket’s growing traffic jams, Governor Maitri pointed out that the number of cars on Phuket’s roads was spiralling critically upwards.

“Phuket has traffic jams simply because we have too many cars and not enough roads. According to figures from the Phuket Land Transportation office, from January 1 to September 30 this year more than 7,000 sedan cars were registered in Phuket. This number does not include other kinds of vehicles,” Gov Maitri said.

“If we lined up all the cars in Phuket end to end, they could make a line more than 200 kilometers long,” he added.

The national government’s first-time car buyer’s initiative – offering tax rebates to young people as an incentive to buy their first car – was not helping, Gov Maitri explained.

“Following the first-car purchase policy launched by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Phuket might have more than 10,000 new cars on our roads next year,” he added.

Building new roads or upgrading existing thoroughfares was not the solution, he said.

“Even if we did build more roads, it is not a permanent solution to reducing traffic congestion. The only way to fix this problem permanently is to promote the use of mass transportation,” he said.

Regardless, Lert Padchawee, the deputy director of the Highways Department regional office in Krabi, which oversees the Phuket Highways Office operations, said his department had a raft of plans drawn up to alleviate Phuket’s traffic woes.

But those plans would cost 30 billion baht to carry out, he said.

Mr Lert explained that his office had plans to expand the airport spur road linking Phuket International Airport to Thepkrasattri Road, and hence to all the resort destinations in the south of the island, from two lanes to four lanes.

Other plans included much-reported underpasses at Central Festival Phuket, currently under construction, and at Samkong Intersection next to Tesco-Lotus and Bang Khu Intersection at the eastern end of the bypass road.

Also on the “shopping list” on road development projects were plans to expand the road joining Sakoo at the north of the island to Koh Kaew, upgrading the road linking Kathu to Kamala, and long-awaited road from Chalong to Patong, which has stalled as the proposed route passes through protected national forest.

“These plans will help fix the traffic problem in Phuket and the Department of Highways is now trying to propose all these projects to the government as urgent,” Mr Lert explained.

However, Kasem Chujarukul of the Department of Rural Roads disagreed. He sided with the governor in that public transportation was the only viable long-term solution.

“Traffic is a problem for many big cities around the world. Even developed countries that have the latest technology to monitor traffic flow still have difficulty in dealing with traffic congestion,” Mr Kasem said.

“Only mass public transportation can help fix traffic problems in the long run,” he added.

“The Department of Rural Roads commissioned Chulalongkorn University to conduct a research study into road safety and the traffic problem in Phuket. The results of that study showed that Phuket is now facing severe traffic congestion, problems with traffic signs, poor-quality roads and bad driving and motorcycle-riding habits,” Mr Kasem explained.

However, Mr Kasem added that there was light at the end of the tunnel in the form of the light-rail project.

“Phuket is planning to build a light-rail system that will be able to support the transport demands of the local people and tourists in the future,” he added.

Last year, many international construction companies sent teams of engineers to Phuket last year to assess the island’s need for a light-rail system and to formally offer their “expression of interest” to to build a light-rail in Phuket the then Phuket Governor, Tri Augkaradacha.

However, at last report, officials in Bangkok decided to ignore all such actions until a government agency had completed its own feasibility study.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Tourism

Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months

Maya Taylor

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Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Jing Daily

The first group of tourists to arrive under Thailand’s new Special Tourist Visa scheme are expected to land in Phuket on October 8. The Bangkok Post reports that a flight from Guangzhou in southern China will carry 120 tourists, who will spend their first 14 days in alternative state quarantine. They are reported to be travelling under the government’s new STV.

Arrivals who do not pass the initial health screening will be transferred to specially chosen hospitals, as “Patients under Investigation”. Those who do pass the screening will be transported to alternative state quarantine once they’ve gone through immigration processing.

A Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesperson says the resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui will be the first to welcome travellers under the Special Tourist Via scheme. He pointed out that Guangzhou has not recorded any new cases of the Covid-19 virus for a prolonged period, meaning next week’s tourist arrivals are deemed “low risk”. His assertion is confirmed from the official figures at worldometer.info website recording world Covid-19 cases.

The CCSA reports that there will be a limit of 300 foreign tourists admitted each week, but this will be reviewed after the first phase of the re-opening. All arrivals will be subject to 14 day quarantine, although the Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has suggested reducing this to 7 days eventually. The CCSA says they are not considering reducing the quarantine time at this stage.

Thiravat Hemachudha from the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre is not opposed to the idea.

“We can study this with foreign visitors who will arrive next month. During the 14 day quarantine they will be tested on the first, the seventh and the fourteenth day. If they are free of infections, we can shorten the quarantine to 7 days.”

However, not all are in agreement, with a doctor from Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University cautioning against any shortening of the quarantine period.

Meanwhile, Phuket governor, Narong Woonsiew, says the province is ready to welcome the new arrivals, with Covid-19 labs in place at Phuket airport, and officials due to carry out a full dress rehearsal today.

Thanit Sermkaew, chief of the Phuket Public Health Office, says over 1,200 rooms at 9 hotels have been chosen as alternative state quarantine properties, with a total of 73 hotels, providing over 5,800 rooms, applying for consideration.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siangtai/Newshawk Phuket

Police tracked down and arrested a Burmese woman who allegedly left her newborn baby on a bench in Phuket’s Patong area last week. The mother faces charges of abandoning a baby.

The newborn was left in a reusable shopping bag on a bench behind a Krungthai Bank branch. A woman in the area heard the baby crying and found the newborn in the bag along with a bottle of milk, diapers and clothing. Police reviewed surveillance camera footage shows a woman, police later identified as Ei Ei Phyu, leaving the bag on the bench.

Police say the woman gave birth on September 9 at a local hospital in Surat Thani’s Phun Phin district. Ei Ei allegedly took a van from Surat Thani to Phuket on September 22 and stayed with a friend in Patong. The early the next morning, she allegedly left her baby on the bench before boarding a bus back to Surat Thani.

Burmese workers in the Patong area told police Ei Ei used to work at a local Indian food restaurant before she moved to Surat Thani to work as a rubber tapper. Ei Ei allegedly told police she is not in the position to raise a child.

In earlier reports, police said the baby is healthy and does not appear to have any injuries.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid | The Thaiger

Phuket Provincial Police have arrested 6 people after finding large amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs during a raid. One suspect alone allegedly had 7.6 kilograms of crystal meth (ya ice) and over 12,500 methamphetamine pills (ya bah). 29 year old Surasak ‘Bank’ Wijit and 27 year old Panida ‘Mei’ Saeyang were arrested at an apartment car park in Soi Lookkaew, Moo 6, Rassada, in eastern Phuket, after they were found in possession of the drugs.

Police also found 2 mobile phones and a red Honda PCX, registered in Phuket, as evidence. Both suspects have been charged with posessing a Category 1 drug with the intent to sell.

Other suspects arrested at the same time include 36 year old from Chiang Rai, 42 year old Sarawut ‘An’ Srichanon, from Ranong and 31 year old Pornthep ‘Iew’ Thepchampa, who were charged with the same crimes in Chalong after police found more drugs in their possession. 33 year old Kamon ‘Kung’ Sae-ngow, was arrested as well after police found kratom juice and leaves at a house in Rassada. He was taken to Phuket City Police station and was charged with a Category 5 drug possession.

SOURCE:The Phuket News

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