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Roadworks delay for “death bend’

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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THALANG: Road construction to straighten the notoriously dangerous Kho En “death bend” on Thepkrasattri Rd has been delayed, with just 2% of the roadwork finished on the project that began June 28 and was scheduled for completion by December 24.

The Phuket Highway District contracted Chaiyakorn Co Lt to expand the 440-meter section of the four lane road and decrease the angle of the curve for 15 million baht. So far, cones have been placed to limit traffic to two lanes passing through the curve and land has been cleared for road expansion. Chaiyakorn Co Lt will not receive any payment until the project is 25% complete.

Chaiyakorn Co Lt will be fined 6,000 baht per day after the contracted completion date of December 24, until the project is finished.

Suriya Juvatee Deputy of Phuket Highway District Engineer said, “Now the construction is only 2% done and it will be late. The contractor will be rushed because they must pay 6,000 baht per day in fines.”

Nearly four months since the project began on June 28, construction has been continually delayed because Chaiyakorn Co Lt has failed to find investors for the project.

K. Suriya explained, “The construction company is not ready financially because they must find the money to complete the construction. The contract states that Phuket Highway District will only began to pay the company money after 25% of the work is complete.”

The sharp curve is particularly dangerous because the road is four lanes wide, making it possible to take the bend at high speeds by straying into other lanes. While under construction, the road has been limited to four lanes and speed bumps installed to slow vehicles’ speeds as they pass through the curve.

“If a driver is approaching the Kho En curve at a high speed they don’t have to slow down because there are four lanes, which is very dangerous.

“We fixed this by putting traffic cones in to reduce the roadway to two lanes. We have found this is much safer for drivers,” K. Suriya said.

The curve, dubbed the Kho En “death bend”, has been scene of numerous accidents throughout the years.

K. Suriya added, “Kho En curve is very dangerous for drivers and there are a lot of accidents. One of the accidents resulted in a car swerving and crashing into a home, then people formed a group asking to either have the road closed or fixed. From that point on we have been trying to make it safer.”

The move to straighten the curve followed the death of the Yam Chanwong, 55, who was killed when her motorbike was crushed by a pick-up truck at 10 am on July 8, of last year.

Her death sparked a protest by a mob of about 200 villagers who blocked the road with tents, demanding to speak with Vice-Governor Worapoj Ratthasima.

With Thepkrasattri Rd being the only road on and off the island, the villagers quickly created a three-kilometer tailback.

The mob agreed to let traffic pass only after Vice-Governor Vorapoj Rattasima came to discuss the problem with leaders at 2:30 pm that day and gave his assurances that he would order the responsible departments to solve the problem as quickly as possible.

After the protest last year, Wirat Bailad, who was a member of the Mai Khao Tambon Administration Organization at the time, said that accidents happened at the curve on average around twice a week but that this incident was particularly bad.

He added that villagers had been calling for the problem to be solved for a long time but no one had been interested.

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO

The Thaiger

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“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO | The Thaiger

Bill Heinecke speaks to Bill Barnett. The two heavy-hitters of Thailand’s hotel and hospitality sector, mull over the current Covid situation and the reopening of Thailand’s borders to some form of tourism. Bill Heinecke is the Chairman and Founder of Minor International.

Bill Barnett is the Managing Director of c9hotelworks.com

Now the Thai government has approved the special long-term tourist visa scheme (STV), hoteliers are remaining skeptical about reopening due to the lack of clarity in the recent announcement, which will reportedly take effect next month. The president of the Thai Hotels Association’s southern chapter says more hoteliers will consider reopening if the government gives further information about the plan in terms of prospective markets, arrival dates, origin countries, and flights.

Such details would allow hotels to prepare themselves ahead of time to offer services as alternative state quarantine premises as at least 60 hotels in Phuket are awaiting approval to operate such facilities.

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Bangkok

Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister

Caitlin Ashworth

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Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Suhyeon Choi

After much confusion and a few apparent ‘misunderstandings’, Chinese tourists on the Special Tourist Visa will actually arrive on October 20 and 26. At least that’s what Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says, according to the Bangkok Post. The first group is said to arrive 4 days from now in Bangkok (if they actually applied for the visa this time).

Reports circulated for weeks about a flight of 120 to 150 tourists set to arrive in Phuket on October 8 from Guangzhou, China. An announcement was made shortly after the flight was due to arrive with Tourism Authority Governor Yuthasak Supasorn saying “administrative issues” had caused the delay.

It was later reported that no one from Guangzhou had actually applied for the visa and it was all just a misunderstanding after the Tourism Authority of Thailand reportedly passed off a list of those “interested” in the visa as actual applications.

This time, the Post is reporting the first group of 120 tourists from Guangzhou will arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on Tuesday. Another group of 120 tourists, also from Guangzhou, will arrive on October 26, but the Post didn’t say where that flight will land.

It’s apparently the same group that was planned to arrive in Phuket on October 8, but the minister claims the trip was postponed due to the Vegetarian Festival which is planned to run until October 25. Both the Phuket governor and National Security Council secretary general had claimed the festival was the reason for the delayed flight and was intended to ease fears of Covid-19 for the festival-goers coming in from the rest of Thailand.

Even though the new long stay tourist visa is good for 90 days, and can be renewed twice, the tourists will only stay in the country for 30 days, with 14 of those days in quarantine. Phiphat says the Tourism Authority of Thailand will find activities to keep the tourists occupied while in quarantine.

The visitors will be the first international tourists after a 6 month ban to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Thai officials have been discussing plans for months about how to safely reopen borders to revive the country’s economy which is heavily driven by the tourism industry. Officals are now talking about cutting down the mandatory time for quarantine from 14 days to 7 days to help entice people to visit.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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