PHUKET: In response to public backlash, the Phuket Provincial Highways Office (PPHO) has removed its signs along the northern section of Thepkrasattri Rd indicating the road’s original and official name, Sathienthapanakij Rd. The new signs were posted as part of a Highways Office national program to have all highways marked clearly with their proper names. PPHO Chief Visute Maiwattana today told the Gazette that the move followed the PPHO receiving many calls from people complaining about how the “new” name would affect their lives, including changes to their ID card and house registration papers. “I have been told that King Rama V named the road Thepkrasattri Rd during a visit to Phuket, but I’m still looking into that,” he added. The new signs prompted such a reaction that the switchboard of local radio station 96.75 FM was jammed with callers during a live talk show this morning. One of the callers, Vice-Governor Manit Wattanasen, voiced his support to keep the commonly-used name. “For matters that affect the public, we have to ask for their opinion,” he said. Another caller, an 80-year-old life-long resident of Phuket, said, “I’ve never heard of the name Sathienthapanakij, and the name Thepkrasattri [the name of one of the island’s legendary Heroines] is much more important than the name of the first of PPHO Chief,” he said. “Changing the name will affect many things, such as tourism and business because when people look at maps, they won’t be able to find the road,” he added. K. Visute said that a formal request had been filed for Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi’s opinion, which will be forwarded to the Highways Department in Bangkok. “But the road will probably keep the name Thepkrasattri Rd,” he added. However, in the meantime, there are no street signs along the northern section of the road.
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