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Thaksin rejects “pearly’ underpasses



PHUKET: Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, in Phuket today for just one hour, turned down a proposal to build two underpasses on the bypass road at a cost of 800 million baht.

Instead, he said, the provincial authorities should look at the example of Dindaeng in Bangkok, where a single tunnel, long enough to reach from Phuket’s Samkong intersection to the Darasamut School intersection, was built for 600 million baht.

“The price is too high,” he said, referring to the plan for two underpasses. “Are they going to be decorated with pearls?”

During the 10-minute meeting with provincial authorities at the airport, he declined to make a decision on the expansion to four lanes of Chao Fa West Rd and Wiset Rd from the Darasamut intersection to Rawai, a project estimated at 260 million baht.

“I will ask the Department of Highways and the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning [in Bangkok] to examine the traffic in Phuket carefully to resolve any problems on this road,” he said. He set no date for a decision.

The Governor of Phuket, Udomsak Usawarangkura, did not present other road projects, particularly the planned Chalong-Patong road, to the Prime Minister.

He did, however, receive the go-ahead to buy the abandoned Payathai Hospital, on Si Sena Rd in Phuket City, and refurbish it as an annex to the Wachira Phuket Hospital.

The PM assigned Deputy Finance Minister Varathep Ratanakorn, to coordinate this plan, because the hospital is currently the property of the Asset Management Corp, the body set up by the government to take over non-performing loans from Thai banks.

PM Thaksin also agreed to allocate a budget of 34 million baht to buy weapons for police in Phuket.

Gov Udomsak pointed out that security in Phuket depends entirely upon the local police force because there are no army bases on the island.

“We need 34 million baht to buy weapons such as handguns, along with ammunition and body armor, to support the police in Phuket,” he told the PM. The Prime Minister assented.

Earlier, PM Thaksin was greeted on his arrival by car from Phang Nga by local Thai Rak Thai supporters wearing party jackets and led by the Dr Sriyada Palimapan, the TRT candidate for the coming general election.

Also there to greet the PM was local politician Wisut Santikul – though not wearing a TRT jacket, having yet to make a decision whether he too will stand as a TRT candidate.

After spending half an hour greeting his supporters, the Prime Minister went into his 10-minute meeting with the Governor and his team.

He then spent another 20 minutes listening to complaints from local people, before climbing into his car for the onward journey to Krabi. He will spend the night there, before returning to Bangkok tomorrow.


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