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Phuket tunnel options explored

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PHUKET CITY: A 40-million-baht feasibility study into the possibility of constructing Phuket’s first road tunnel has come up with three options for planners to consider.

According to researchers’ preliminary findings, the proposed tunnel between Kathu to Patong would cost between 1.16 and 2.48 billion baht.

Main contractor Epsilon Company Ltd is working with experts from PlanPro Corp Ltd and Kasetsart University to carry out the 15-month study, which got underway in July.

PlanPro will study traffic flow and the possibility of private funding under a build-operate-transfer agreement, while the Kasetsart University Faculty of Engineering team will help prepare the project’s environmental impact assessment report.

Phuket Vice Governor Smith Palawatwichai chaired a meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall on Friday to hear the first findings of the study, which was funded entirely by Patong Municipality.

Also attending were project supporters, including Patong Mayor Pian Keesin and Kathu Police Superintendent Grissak Songmoonnark.

The Patong Tunnel road could take three different routes, all of which could accommodate either a two- or four-lane road, the researchers said.

The final report, scheduled for submission in October next year, will include cost estimates and a determination of which, if any, of the three routes under consideration is viable.

The first option would be a 1.44 kilometer tunnel, the access road to which would be a left hand turnoff from Phra Barami Road in Tambon Kathu, near the go-kart track.

The total length of the new road, which would end in Patong near the junction of Phisit Gorani and 50 Pi roads, would be 2.27 kilometers. The cost would be about 1.3 billion baht for a two-lane road and 2.48 billion baht for a four-lane road, according to the consultants.

The second option would start in the same location but end in Patong near the APK Resort on Phang Muang Ruam Sai Kor Road, commonly referred to as ‘the new road’.

The tunnel would cover just under half of the total 2.93-kilometer route. Cost would be 1.28 billion baht for two lanes and 2.44 billion baht for four lanes.

The third and most striking option would have Patong-bound motorists enter an access road past the go-kart track, then enter a 450-meter tunnel that would pass under the existing Phra Barami Road.

After leaving the tunnel high up in the hillside, traffic would be routed via a 450-meter elevated roadway that would pass over a real estate development and then back over Phra Barami Road, not far from where a large sinkhole appeared during a rainstorm last August.

The route would end in Patong near the junction of Phisit Gorani Road with 50 Pi Road.

Total road length would be 2.35 kilometers.

Initial cost projection would be 1.16 billion baht for two lanes and 2.48 billion baht for four lanes.

Public hearings will be conducted soon, with the results to be included in the final project recommendations.

“Whichever route is chosen, I think it will increase safety and promote Phuket tourism,” Mayor Pian told the gathering, adding that he hoped to attract foreign investment for the project.

Mayor Pian also floated the idea of establishing parking areas at both ends of the tunnel route so that commuters could use an unspecified public transport option.

Col Grissak said the existing Patong Hill road has been the site of numerous accidents during his two-year tenure as chief of the Kathu Police.

“The traffic on the hill road is very bad, especially when it rains. Even one car conking out can cause a two-kilometer tailback very quickly…. If you want to go to Patong, you must make sure that your car and driving skills are sufficient,” he said.

— Kitima Pornmongkhonwat

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Phuket

Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment

The Thaiger

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Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment | The Thaiger

A man has been found hanged in Phuket Town apartment yesterday. Police are treating the cases as a suicide at the moment.

The man was found hanged from the apartment’s ceiling fan. His lifeless body was discovered around 11am after neighbours complained to the manager about the smell coming from the man’s room.

Police and the local Kusoldharm Foundation rescue workers attended the scene. Police later confirmed the incident happened in room on the 3rd floor of an apartment lock in Soi Phoonphol Soi 1, Talat Nuea in Phuket Town. Police said the man was 35-45 years of age and had a 29 year old girlfriend from Chumphon. He was paying 1,000 baht a month and had been renting the room for 2 months. Police estimate that the man had been dead for at least 3 days.

Police told media that the man had used, what appeared to be a dress, tied around his neck and then to the room’s roof fan. The apartment manager told police that he had been late on on his recent rent, speculating that the man may have been suffering financial hardship.

The man’s identity has not been released at this stage.

His body was taken to Vachira Hospital for an autopsy.

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline: 02 713 6791 (English), 02 713 6793 (Thai) or the Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai).

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Tourism

Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule

The Thaiger

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Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Airways' ATR72, servicing the re-introduced routes

Some domestic routes are being added as local routes continue to expand. This time Bangkok Airways has announced it’s resuming its Samui-Phuket, Phuket-Hat Yai and Phuket-Pattaya/Rayong (U-Tapao) flights.

The first additions to the schedule will be the Phuket-Samui flights resuming this Sunday, October 25, and the Phuket-Pattaya flights start again next Tuesday, October 27. The Phuket-Samui flights will be operating on Sundays and Wednesdays only on the airlines’ ATR72 turbo prop regional planes, same as before.

A casual search on the Bangkok Airways website, for a return flight from Phuket to Samui on November 1, then back to Phuket on November 8 indicates the cheapest fare (promo) is 2,430 baht. Coming back, the cheapest fare we found, again labelled ‘promo’, was 2,630 baht. Bangkok Airways operate as a “full service” airline and don’t compete with the country’s discount airlines. But they operate these three routes exclusively – like it or leave it.

Bangkok Airways say that the flights will be operated “with the highest preventive measures and standards”. Around the country the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand have eased a few of the onboard restrictions, including the start of catering services which were originally banned under the initial flight rules when domestic routes started flying again at the start of July.

The daily direct services between Phuket and Hat Yai are also being operated on the ATR72 aircraft. The flight to Ha Yai leaves Phuket at 8.40am and arrives at Hat Yai at 9:.45am. The return flights leave Hat Yai back to Phuket at 10.25am each day. The route was very popular for the airline before the ‘disruption’ when airlines had their fleets grounded in April.

The service between Phuket and U-Tapao, linking the party city with the party island, will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, again with the ATR72. Phuket to U-Tapao will leave at 12.10pm and then from U-Tapao to Phuket at 4pm on the three days. U-Tapao is about a 50 minute drive from Pattaya and the airport also serves the greater Rayong area.

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Phuket

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket

Maya Taylor

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4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket. PHOTO: Booking.com

Phuket officials are setting aside around 4 billion baht to transform medical tourism in the southern province of Phuket, by developing a state-of-the-art treatment hub in the north of the island. The Bangkok Post reports that the Treasury department is planning to give the Public Health Ministry permission to use 141 rai of government land in the sub-district of Mai Khao, close to Phuket International Airport. It’s not the first time the proposal has come to light.

The concept is gathering support as Phuket battles to diversify its attraction beyond a tropical holiday island.

The aim is to develop Phuket as a world-class health and wellness destination, with facilities that will attract medical tourists from all over the world, as well as providing a high standard of treatment to the local population. It’s understood the facility will provide a full range of health services, including long-term care, and hospice and rehabilitation services.

The island already has a well-developed medical tourism market, but has been based around local hospitals and clinics linking up with foreign marketing companies in the past. “The International Medical and Public Health Service” has been conceived to create more long term financial security and diversification, and value-added tourism in Phuket, as the island has taken a heavy financial hit over the past 7 months.

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Phuket Andaman News

The plan was first suggested in 2017, by then governor, Noraphat Plodthong and confirmed by the director of Phuket’s Vachira Hospital, Dr. Chalermpong Sukontapol, in July. At that stage, the estimated budget was 3-4 billion baht. The director-general of the Treasury department, Yuthana Yimkarun, says the plot is being offered to the Health Ministry for free. The land is thought be worth around 1 billion baht.

Yuthana says the ministry will manage investment, with approximately 2 billion baht required for the first stage of the project. Construction of the facility is expected to be completed over 2 years.

Meanwhile, it’s understood that unused government land that is currently managed by various government agencies may be moved under the remit of central government, with a view to increasing its worth. According to the Bangkok Post report, just 4% of government land is directly managed by the Treasury. The other 96% is controlled by various government agencies. Yuthana says the plan is to increase the percentage of state-owned land under the Treasury’s management to 10% within 2 years.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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