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Phuket to press PM for underpasses



PHUKET CITY: Vice-Governor Pongpow Ketthong yesterday confirmed that the Phuket Provincial government will continue to pursue the budget required to build two underpasses along the bypass road.

“Phuket needs the underpasses,” he told a meeting at Provincial Hall.

V/Gov Pongpow’s comments follow the rejection by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra during his recent visit to Phuket of an 800-million-baht budget request for the underpasses, at the Darasamut and the Samkong junctions.

PM Thaksin turned down the budget for the underpasses on the grounds that they were too expensive. “Are they going to be decorated with pearls?” he asked.

The PM suggested that a single tunnel be built under both intersections, similar to the Dindaeng underpass in Bangkok, which cost 600 million baht.

V/Gov Pongpow yesterday said, “We have sent a letter to PM Thaksin explaining that the Phuket underpasses will be for two-way traffic, not one-way, which is the case with the Dindaeng underpass. So the cost will naturally be higher.

“We hope that he will understand that we need them and that he will approve the budget so we can start building them by next year.”

Also at the meeting was Phuket City Police Station Deputy Superintendent Pol Lt Col Teeraphol Thipjaroen, who is a member of the Provincial Traffic Solutions Committee (PTSC).

“The traffic is getting worse in Phuket City and on the main roads linking the city with areas such as Chalong and Tung Tong. These roads have begun to experience traffic jams as well.

“[Phuket City] has 64 traffic police, the same number as 10 years ago. Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura, as head of the PTSC, has suggested training members of the Volunteer Security Force to help traffic police, which should help,” he said.

Col Teeraphol added that Phuket City Municipality is looking into the possibility of widening roads to relieve traffic congestion, making some roads one-way, and even considering stricter enforcement of traffic laws, especially those related to illegal parking.

“I hope the local admininstration organizations will start dealing with traffic problems in their areas, especially since they will soon become responsible for enforcing some traffic laws. They will be empowered to designate no-parking zones, and to fine and even arrest offenders,” he said.

“People should be aware that roadworks will worsen the traffic situation. Many routes are being built [or widened]. The bypass road will become six lanes wide, and Chao Fa West Rd, Phra Phuket Kaew Rd and Wichit Songkram Rd will all become four lanes wide.

“We cannot avoid worse traffic conditions while these projects are in full swing,” he said.

The colonel also cited Phuket’s unreliable public transport as a big problem that needs to be fixed. “It takes time to convince people to use public transport,”he said. “But when [driving] becomes unbearable, people will start using it.”


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