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B1bn Patong Tunnel payout “not enough’, say residents

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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B1bn Patong Tunnel payout “not enough’, say residents | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Residents of the Baan Mon community yesterday continued their opposition to the proposed 6-billion-baht Patong Tunnel project, urging officials to choose a route that would not go right through their neighborhood.

The opposition comes in the face of the announcement that the government would be looking to pay a total of about 1 billion baht to some 20 households that will be forced to relocate to make way for the project.

“I agree that something needs to be done to make traffic access to Patong easier and safer, but Patong Municipality has studied only how and where to build the tunnel. They have not studied the effect on the environment and local residents,” Baan Mon villager Jamras Aiemsaard told the Phuket Gazette.

“Even though they want to build a flyover over the neighborhood, it will make the area noisy,” he added.

Speaking at a public-feedback meeting on the project held yesterday at The Metropole Hotel, Mr Jamras urged Expressway Authority of Thailand (EXAT) Governor Aiyanat Tinapai, who heads the agency tasked with the construction and operation of the tunnel project, to choose another route to the north of Patong.

“I suggest building the 3.5km route that starts at the junction of Phang Muang Sai Kor Road and Prabaramree Road [map here] and build the tunnel through the Nakkerd Hills to join Route 4029 [joining Patong to Kathu] near the Chanida Clinic. The tunnel length would be 2.5km,” he said.

“This route would also make it easier for motorists travelling between Kamala and Phuket Town,” Mr Jamras added.

Speaking to the Gazette earlier, villagers confirmed that under the current plans for the Patong Tunnel about 80 families – not 20 – will be forced to move to make way for the project (story here).

However, EXAT Governor Aiyanat yesterday did not acknowledge what compensation the remaining 60 households would receive if those residents were forced to relocate. An officer at the meeting later told the Gazette that only 20 families would be affected.

Governor Aiyanat did explain that the Ministry of Transport had assigned EXAT responsibility for overseeing the tunnel project, news that was already publicly confirmed in August last year (story here).

He also confirmed that EXAT had hired three consultants to conduct research studies in the areas of engineering and tunnel design, as well as on the economic, financial and environment impacts of the project.

“The research will be conducted over 15 months, from February 15, 2013 to May 14, 2014. Construction is expected to start in 2015 and finish in 2018,” he added.

Governor Aiyanat named the three consultants as Asian Engineering Consultant Corp Ltd, D2 Consult Asia Co Ltd and Enrich Consultants Co Ltd.

All other details of the project, including the route, cost, number of lanes and which vehicles would be permitted to enter the tunnel, remained unchanged from the plans announced last year (stories here and here).

Patong Mayor Pian Keesin remained vocal in his support for the project.

“The cost we have to pay villagers for relocating will be reasonable, and our officers will explain to them how the project benefits the public,” he said.

“After the tunnel is open, we will landscape the old road from Kathu to Patong [over the notorious Patong Hill] so it will be more beautiful than ever,” Mayor Pian added.

“In the future, we will connect this route to the light-rail from Phuket International Airport to improve traffic flow,” he explained.

However, he did not elaborate on any progress with Phuket’s long-awaited light-rail project, which ground to a halt in June last year when the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning realized that by law it had to conduct its own feasibility studies on the proposed project (story here).

Despite several previous public meetings over the many years that the Patong Tunnel has been proposed, yesterday’s meeting was touted as the “first” public meeting for the project.

Among those previous public meetings was one in October 2012, when Transport Minister Jarupong Ruangsuwan arrived in Phuket in person to attend a public meeting on the impact of the Patong Tunnel project on local residents, especially the Baan Mon community in Patong, where relocations will be necessary to make way for the tunnel exit into the west coast town (story here).

By law, major public infrastructure projects must pass at least three public-feedback meetings in order for the project to pass its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) requirements.

Yesterday’s meeting also came as the Gazette confirmed that the required 6bn baht budget still has yet to be approved by Cabinet.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

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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

Phuket workshop helps residents cope with high stress brought on by the economic crisis

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket workshop helps residents cope with high stress brought on by the economic crisis | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: ประชาสัมพันธ์ เทศบาลตำบลวิชิต

Hundreds of residents in Phuket’s Wichit subdistrict attended a workshop focused on reducing stress from to the pandemic-induced economic crisis. A psychologist was even on site to help those who had extreme mental stress and a Buddhist monk taught meditation techniques to reduce physiological effects of stress.

The event was planned in response to an online survey conducted by the municipality asking residents about how much stress they were experiencing from the economic climate. They found that some residents had serious stress issues brought on by the pandemic and financial problems, according to Wichit Mayor Kreetha Chotiwichphiphat.

“The loss of income due to the economic crisis brought on by the Covid-19 situation has resulted in some people in the area suffering serious stress, which can lead to serious mental health issues.”

Around 350 people attended the event. The mayor says it was the first step in caring for the residents’ mental health. Local officials plan to hold similar workshops in the future.

“It was a good opportunity for people to realise the importance of mental health and to learn techniques of how to deal with stress, which will help people to maintain their physical health and avoid developing mental health problems.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | The Thaiger

The Soi Dog Foundation has officially opened its Humane Education Centre, the first of its kind in Thailand dedicated to the welfare of stray animals. The centre, located at the Soi Dog shelter in northern Phuket, forms part of the foundation’s Humane Education program. Rolled out in 2017, the program sees a team visit Thai schools to teach the next generation the basic principles of animal welfare and promote empathetic attitudes towards both owned pets and free-roaming strays.

The program has reached a total of 15,058 students and 861 teachers to date. With a dedicated classroom as well as educational tools and resources now on site at the shelter, Soi Dog will be able to expand the programme and reach an even greater number of young minds.

Co-founder and president of Soi Dog Foundation International John Dalley said, “The cornerstones of what we do – what I believe very firmly are the answers to the stray dog problem throughout Asia – are large-scale sterilisation of stray dogs and cats and education of, particularly, the next generation.

“We see all the time the problems that are being caused through us not respecting the environment and not respecting the other animals with whom we share this planet. That’s why education is so important.”

John also thanked the supporters and donors who made the construction of the centre possible. After cutting the ribbon, the students filed into the brand-new facility for the very first on-site class – a fun and interactive hour of roleplaying, brainstorming and problem solving.

Humane Education Manager Nuttawut “Film” Kumngern. said… “We want to encourage kindness toward animals, especially free-roaming dogs and cats, and teach youngsters to be responsible pet owners. This will sustainably reduce animal cruelty and pet abandonment.”

“We hope to one day see animal welfare incorporated into the curriculum in Thai schools, and our education centre is a great start.”

Soi Dog is ready to welcome school groups from Phuket and other provinces to the centre which can accommodate up to 40 students at any one time. Schools interested in participating are encouraged to email film@soidog.org

Phuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The ThaigerPhuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The Thaiger

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International Schools

Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket

The Thaiger

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Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket | The Thaiger

Chalong police in Phuket say they have yet to start investigating the illegal hiring of foreign teachers at an international school in Rawai, south of the island. Palm House International School allegedly hired foreign teachers illegally in which 2 were arrested by Phuket Immigration police on November 4.

Somkiet Sarasin, the leading investigator of the case, says the 2 Brits were informed that police were processing a charge of working illegally in the country against them, in which both denied the charges. Somkiet says the 2 were released on bail, but did not confirm the amount of bail that was set by the police.

“They are still staying in Thailand. I am not worried. I have their passports. I am not available to explain [any details] because the investigation is still ongoing.”

“This is normal for an investigation when the suspects deny the charge against them. I have to check more information against their claims. This case will probably be concluded next month.”

However, the investigation has yet to begin, with Somkiet saying he has not even questioned the owner of the school, despite his claims the case would be finished next month.

“The investigation into the school will take time. The investigation into the two British people must be finished first.”

Such allegations of foreign teachers working illegally have recently been in the news after Sarasas Witaed Sainoi Pitiyakarn School, in the central province of Nonthaburi, saw 7 foreign teachers probed for being hired illegally. That school, along with others in its private network, made nationwide news after CCTV caught a Thai teacher hitting, pushing and dragging a young student in the classroom. Such widespread violence against students has long been a sad component of many Thai schools, in which some of the teachers are unqualified and unlicensed to teach, but are hired anyway.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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