Phuket MP urges swift action on delayed Patong Tunnel

Photo: Chalermpong Saengdee/Facebook.

Phuket MP Chalermpong Saengdee recently took the floor in the House of Representatives, using his platform to challenge the ongoing delay in the construction of the much-anticipated Patong Tunnel. The Speaker of the House and the Deputy Minister of Transport were present to hear his concerns.

With a reputation as a renowned tourist hotspot, Patong’s economic health is largely reliant on its ability to attract visitors. Therefore, according to Chalermpong, safe and efficient transportation to the town must be ensured.

He painted a vivid picture of the daily commuting struggles faced by residents, primarily from the Kathu subdistrict, highlighting the importance of the tunnel to their livelihoods.

Chalermpong underlined the limited number of routes currently available for travel to Patong City, with the majority of traffic concentrated on the dangerous Wichit Songkhram Road, which is known for its steep mountainous terrain and treacherous curves. The rainy season exacerbates these conditions, increasing the frequency of accidents, some of which have resulted in fatalities.

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The concept of a tunnel connecting Kathu and Patong is not a new one. The late former Mayor of Patong, Pian Keesin, first proposed the idea back in 2000. Unfortunately, the project has been delayed repeatedly and no tangible progress has been evident thus far.

Given the urgent need for safer and more efficient travel routes, Chalermpong urged the government to prioritise the construction of the Kathu-Patong tunnel.

Patong Tunnel plans

The current plans involve the construction of a 1.85-kilometre tunnel and the development of main roads to facilitate access to and from the tunnel. However, despite outlining these plans, Chalermpong expressed frustration at the lack of a clear timeline for completion.

Chalermpong also queried what interim measures the government was planning to mitigate the accident risks while the tunnel construction was underway.

In addition to the tunnel, Chalermpong also addressed the state of Luang Pu Supha Road in the Chalong Subdistrict. This route, which has been under construction since last year, is another potential link between Patong and Phuket Town.

However, the road has suffered significant damage and is currently barely usable. Chalermpong called on the government to consider improving this route as an alternative for people travelling to Patong.

The Patong Tunnel project hit a stumbling block in April when 13 companies failed to submit a bid. This was followed by Phuket’s unsuccessful bid to host the World Specialised Expo in 2027-28.

On the day that the Expo bid was lost, the Expressway Authority of Thailand announced that legislation had been passed to allow the government to expropriate the land required for the Patong Tunnel. However, since that announcement, there has been a noticeable silence on any further progress, reported Phuket News.

Expo bid

Former Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew has previously warned that the failure of the Expo bid could lead to delays in the implementation of significant transport projects in Phuket. Despite this, the Patong Tunnel project has been discussed in depth during Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s recent visits to Phuket.

The Transport Minister has also revealed the government’s intention to inject 148 billion baht into the development of Phuket’s tourism and transport infrastructure.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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