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Race to repair Patong Hill road

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Race to repair Patong Hill road | The Thaiger

PHUKET: The Highways Department hopes to begin shoring up one landslide-prone section of the road over Patong Hill in June, but work on another section of the same road will have to wait until at least next year.

Sathaporn Sornchana, deputy director of the Highways Department office in Phuket, told the Phuket Gazette that the plan to reinforce a section of Phra Barami Road, on the Patong side of the hill, is still awaiting final approval from the Highways Department in Bangkok.

“We are following this project closely. We hope to gain final approval and begin work as soon as possible in this fiscal year,” he said.

Once approved, his office would have one month to find a contractor to undertake the work, which would be scheduled for completion within 150 days, Mr Sathaporn said.

Under such a time frame, the work would take place during the rainiest months of the year in Phuket and be completed at or around the beginning of the next high season for tourism.

The project site would be a stretch of road on Phra Barami Road eastbound, the breakdown lane of which dramatically slid away during heavy rains last October. It was subsequently patched with a temporary cover, but fears of another landslip in the area are a major concern, even more so after the recent seismic activity in the area.

Funding for repairs will be covered under the government’s budget for emergency repairs for flood damage, although the real cause of the slide was hillside development in the area along Soi Kuan Yang that exposed the base of the road to erosion. Rubber plantation and zinc-roofed homes in a temporary workers camp still occupy downslope areas.

The site is well known to Phuket commuters as it runs along the stretch of road about 100 meters west of the San Chao Phor Suea (Tiger God Chinese Shrine) at the top of the hill, where local commuters typically sound their horn to pay respects to the local spirits that are believed by some to dwell there.

The project would cover a 200-meter stretch of road, extending 60 meters downslope. Workers will bore steel galvanized “soilnails” and install PVC drainpipes into the ground beneath the road to prevent further erosion. When completed, the exterior surface would be covered with “shotcrete” (sprayed concrete), with exposed areas further downslope at lower gradients covered with anchored erosion control mesh.

During construction, the 200 meters of road will be closed to traffic for about five months, Mr Sathaporn said.

His office is also waiting for an additional 5 million baht in funding approval to conduct “permanent” repairs to a section of Phra Barami Road further to the west where a large sinkhole opened up in the middle of a lane in August, 2009, he added.

On the Kathu side of Phra Barami Road, where a landslide toppled power poles and caused a 100-meter section of road near the Patong City sign to slump in October last year, there seems to be little hope that landslide prevention work will begin in fiscal 2012.

Mr Sathaporn said responsibility for this section of the road was consigned to his office from Kathu Municipality only on April 2.

No project plan for landslide prevention work has yet been drawn up by either Kathu Municipality or the Highways Department and the period to apply for funding under the emergency flood repair budget for fiscal 2012 has already closed.

Looking to the future, many officials see the long-term solution as tunneling though Patong to create a new four-lane road. An in-depth study was conducted by Patong Municipality and Cabinet recently assigned the project to Transport Ministry’s Expressway Authority of Thailand (EXAT).Several groups of foreign investors have shown interest in the project, which EXAT Governor Ayyanat said would take about six years and 6 billion baht to complete.

— Atchaa Khamlo

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Crime

2 Phuket Town nightclubs shut down after allegedly violating multiple laws

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2 Phuket Town nightclubs shut down after allegedly violating multiple laws | The Thaiger

2 Phuket Town nightclubs are shutting down after allegedly violating multiple laws. The Maldives and H20 on Lim Sui Ju Road, on the south end of Phuket Town were ordered by the Phuket Governor to close immediately, with the Maldives being orderd to close for 5 years.

The order comes after the Phuket City Police inspected the Maldives club, arresting the manager for operating an entertainment venue without a permit, allowing people under 20 years old to work or “use services in the venue,” and for selling alcohol without a permit.

Governor Narong cited his authority under Section 4 of NCPO order 22/2558 to order the Maldives nightclub to be closed for 5 years, from March 5, 2021 to March 4, 2026.

The order also prohibits the operators from opening any other entertainment venues during the same period. The H20 nightclub was ordered to close by a provincial order after Phuket City Police say they inspected the venue and charged the operator for selling or providing shisha, or baraku, without permission.

The owner was also accused of operating an entertainment venue without a permit and violating the provincial order for enforcing Covid-19 safety measures. But it is unknown what penalties were handed down to the operator of the H20 nightclub, unlike the Maldives operator, who received a penalty.

Instead, the governor cited the Revolution Council announcement of 1959, to shut down the establishment for 30 days from March 5, 2021 to April 3, 2021. The orders noted that both operators of the clubs have the right to appeal the closures, having 15 days to file an appeal directly with the Phuket Governor.

Meanwhile, Phuket is set to open its doors to vaccinated, international tourists by October, pending the government’s approval. The local government’s initiative, named Phuket First October, proposes vaccinating a majority of its population over 18 years of age in time for the high season.

The move would allow thousands of vaccinated Europeans to enter Thailand, while locals would be protected from the virus symptoms.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Drugs

Early morning drug busts in Phuket yield 9 arrests

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Early morning drug busts in Phuket yield 9 arrests | The Thaiger

An early morning drug bust in Rawai, Phuket has yielded 9 arrests. The first raid yesterday consisted of 30 task force members who raided a sea gypsy shack near the beachfront in Rawai.

43 year old Saroch Homhuan, and 34 year old Juree Bangjak, were arrested and charged with posession of a Category I drug with the intent to sell, after police found 9 pills of methamphetamine, or yaba in Thai, over 6 grams of crystal meth, or ya ice in Thai, and 3 other “items of evidence.”

31 year old Suriyan Na Takuathung, and 29 year old Prathip Areerop, were arrested and charged with possession of a Category 1 drug with intent to sell, and possession of a Category 5 drug respectively. Police say they found 20 pills of methamphetamine, 0.92 grams of dried marijuana and 5 items of drug paraphernalia.

Police also raided 2 houses in Moo 2, arresting 5 suspects, named as 21 year old Vikrom Kongwiriyakul, 32 year old Narunat Chanthamuwong, 18 year old Chanchai Damrongkaset, a woman named Chantha Hansaithong, and 21 year old Warut Rodphan.

Warut was allegedly found with a bottle containing 500 millilitres of kratom juice. Police also say they seized 150 grams of kratom leaf dregs which are used to boil leaves in order to make the juice. Police charged him with posession of a Category 5 drug.

Police say they confiscated a total of 13 litres of kratom juice from 4 other suspects, which was contained in 10 bottles along with other ingredients and equipment to produce the drug cocktail called ‘4×100.’

All 9 suspects were taken to the Chalong Police Station in which only 1 agreed to undergo drug rehabilitation.

The raids come after the Phuket Provincial Government ordered officers of the Muang District Office to target villages where drugs are prevalent. A spokesman for the government said police will continue to remove drug traffickers from the community while working to improve the quality of local people’s lives so they don’t have to use drugs anymore.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Tourism

Thailand to introduce “area quarantine” for international visitors from April

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Thailand to introduce “area quarantine” for international visitors from April | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Andreas M on Unsplash

From next month, foreign visitors to the Kingdom will be able to experience the delights of “area quarantine”, after the government confirmed the scheme for 5 provinces. Following a meeting with the Public Health Ministry, the Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn confirmed that Phuket, Krabi, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri (Pattaya), and Surat Thani (Koh Samui and Koh Pha-ngan) have been chosen to pilot the scheme.

Foreign tourists opting for area quarantine will be required to remain in their hotel rooms for the first 3 days of their stay. They will be tested for Covid-19 and, if negative after 3 days, will be allowed to leave their room and roam freely around the resort for the remainder of their 14-day quarantine. At the end of the 14-day period, they will once again be tested for the virus and, if negative, allowed to travel around the quarantine area.

In order to avail of the scheme, tourists will still need to fulfil the other requirements for travel, including obtaining a Certificate of Entry, a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours prior to travel, and adequate health insurance. Nation Thailand reports that the area quarantine plan will be run by 29 travel agencies, under TAT supervision.

The area quarantine scheme comes as the TAT hails the success of the first “golf quarantine” scheme, which operates in a similar manner. Travellers from countries considered “low-risk” for Covid-19 can come to Thailand for a golf holiday at approved golf resorts in the Kingdom. Conditions are similar to those attached to area quarantine, with the golfers having to spend the first 3 days in their room, test negative for the virus, and then enjoy free rein of the resort, with a few rounds of golf thrown in.

Thailand’s economy has been decimated by the fallout from the pandemic, in particular the loss of international tourism. The current mandatory 14-day quarantine period is seen as the biggest hurdle to overcome in order to re-ignite the sector. In 2019, international tourism contributed 2 trillion baht out of a total 3.01 trillion baht tourism trade. In the same year, tourism made up 17% of Thailand’s GDP.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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