Phuket ‘mangrove road’ wins EIA approval

PHUKET: Construction of the Klong Koh Pee Road project moved a step closer to becoming a reality yesterday when Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha confirmed the Special Committee on Environment had given the plan the green light.

Gov Tri received the news at a meeting with the special committee on Wednesday in Bangkok, which was also attended by Phuket MP Raewat Areerob and Phuket City Municipality Mayor Somjai Suwansupapana.

The road – first proposed 15 years ago and staunchly championed by former Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop – had been held up by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) following their rejection of its Environmental Impact Assessment.

The key sticking point was the use of a 600-meter stretch of protected mangrove forest to complete the road.

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The approval by the MNRE this week follows the notification allowing Phuket province to be the sole exception to the nationwide blanket ban on using mangrove forest land.

Under the new regulation, mangrove forest land in Phuket may be used for projects that bring “public benefit”.

When completed the road will greatly reduce commuting time between much of the island and Saphan Hin, which is home to a large park, two schools and a university.

A budget of 140 million baht has been requested for the project. Although the governor still has to meet the Chief of the Department of Rural Roads on December 8 for budget approval, the process is expected to be a mere formality.

If the budget is passed, construction on the road is due to begin in the middle of next year and be completed by the end of 2012.

The planned flyover road will be 600 meters long, three meters high and 27 meters wide, and consist of four 3.5-meter-wide traffic lanes, two on each side of the road.

On each traffic side, there will also be one bicycle lane and a walking lane.

“With much effort from every Phuket resident, and by former Gov Wichai, it is good news that the traffic problem in Saphan Hin area will be resolved.

“People will get a better chance to visit Saphan Hin,” said Gov Tri.

— Pimwara Choksakulpan

Phuket News

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