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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

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.

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Hua Hin

Southern Thailand braces for rough weather and rain

May Taylor

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Southern Thailand braces for rough weather and rain | The Thaiger

The Thailand Meteorological Department issued a weather warning for southern Thailand with torrential rain forecast to hit the region throughout the weekend. The heavy monsoon over the Gulf of Thailand and south of the country is being blamed for the rough weather, with the TMD predicting flash flooding in many areas.

(Phuket, Hat Yai and Hua Hin’s forecast below)

“Waves are expected to reach 2 metres in height in the lower Gulf of Thailand and possibly higher at the height of the storm. Ships are advised to proceed with caution.”

For the north and northeast of Thailand, the TMD forecasts strong winds and cooler mornings as the arrival of the “winter” season, coupled with a moderate high-pressure system, causes temperatures to dip.

Hua Hin’s five day forecast

Southern Thailand braces for rough weather and rain | News by The Thaiger

Phuket’s five day forecast

Southern Thailand braces for rough weather and rain | News by The Thaiger

Hat Yai’s five day forecast

Southern Thailand braces for rough weather and rain | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation | weather.com

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Crime

Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft

Greeley Pulitzer

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Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Patong Police

Patong Police have yet to develop any tangible leads tracking down a foreigner who made off with US$30,000 in cash from a currency exchange booth in Kalim, north of Patong in Phuket, last Tuesday.

The man is about 168 centimetres tall with grey hair and around 60 years old, Patong police told The Phuket News.

“We have no clue what nationality he is.”

He was last seen at the currency exchange booth wearing a purple polo shirt, blue jeans and black cap. Police have checked hotels in the area, police stations across the island and Phuket Immigration, but have yet to join the dots and come up with firm leads.

“Investigators have checked CCTV in the area and collected what evidence we have but we still do not know the man’s name or where he was staying.”

The man had visited the booth several times before Tuesday, when he disappeared with the $30,000 in US banknotes, according to police.

“It was always small amounts”, he added, noting that the amounts didn’t warrant staff at the exchange booth to check the man’s passport before making the exchange.

The man arrived at the booth again at about 1pm on Tuesday, saying that he had 900,000 baht cash to exchange.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Crime

Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room

The Thaiger

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Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Hot News

The security guard of a hotel in Nai Yang, northern Phuket, 52 year old Yingyot Butsabong, from Maha Sarakham province, was found dead yesterday (October 16) in his room. Police remain mystified how the man came to grief.

A woman named Supattra received a call from the hotel he worked at and was informed that he didn’t show up at work yesterday, so she went to his apartment to check on him.

She saw that his room was locked from the inside, so used the key she had in her possession to open the room and found Yingyot laying on the floor, face down. She thought he was just sleeping so she tried to wake him up but once she flipped him, she found that he already passed away.

She immediately called Saku police, and once on the scene, police found that there was some blood on the floor. The man had a 2 centimetre wound on his left eyebrow which was deep into his skull. There was also a wound on his chin about 1 centimetre long and about a centimetre deep. His left eye had a bruise which looked like he was attacked by a hard object.

Police report that he had been dead for around four hours in the room.

The room was not ransacked and there was no sign of fighting or theft. His body has been sent to Thalang Hospital for a detailed autopsy and to look into the cause of death.

SOURCE: Phuket Hot News

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