PHUKET: More than 200 Phuket residents protested today against the construction of the new provincial hall.
The protesters gathered this morning at Sanam Chai in Phuket Town, opposite the current provincial Hall (map here), to express their concerns that the proposed new hall will negatively affect the lifestyle of people in the area.
Former Rassada Mayor Suratin Lianudom and former Tambon Administration Organization (OrBorTor) member Rangsan Kongthong led the area residents to meet Phuket Governor Maitri Inthusut to file a complaint against the construction of the new hall.
“We are afraid that the new provincial hall will have a negative impact on the neighborhood,” said Mr Suratin.
“Residents are concerned about losing the football field and tennis courts, which they use not only for sport but also for social and community events,” he said.
“People gather at the football field in the afternoon and evening, and we use it for fairs and to celebrate HM The King’s Birthday,” he added.
Mr Suratin promised that protests would be ongoing and that the group would invite more people to join. To show their determination, the protesters said they planned to set up a tent to allow them to stay overnight at Sanam Chai.
Phuket Vice Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada received their complaint as Governor Maitri is currently on duty abroad, and tried to convince the protesters that their fears were unwarranted.
“The new provincial hall will be constructed where the tennis courts are now. New tennis courts will be built at the back of the present provincial hall. We will still use Sanam Chai as a place to hold events and people will be allowed to use the [new] tennis courts and soccer field as usual,” he stated.
While Vice Governor Chamroen was talking to the protesters, some of them showed their dissatisfaction by shouting and making loud noises.
V/Gov Chamroen asked the protesters to send a representative to discuss the issue with him, but they refused.
The governor explained that the present provincial hall has been in use for 105 years.
“The building is showing its age and it is too small,” he said. “It is crowded when many people come together at the same time.
“We received a 450-million-baht budget from the Cabinet to build a new provincial hall at Sanam Chai. The new building will be five-stories with a meeting hall that can hold 500 people,” he said
“Our goal is to facilitate people. The new hall will be beneficial to both government organizations and local residents. We have to find a way to explain this better to the protesters,” said Mr Chamroen.
The budget for the building and how the money will be allocated was explained by Tawee Homhuan, Chief of the Phuket Office of Public Works and Town and Country Planning.
“We have received the budget for fiscal years 2013-2015 to construct the new hall,” he said. “Now we are starting to write the time line of the project. The construction will take about 700 days.”
According to Mr Tawee, the budget breaks down as follows:
- 16,600sqm building – 306mn baht.
- Parking for 400 cars, half underground, half around the building – 73mn baht
- Meeting hall and canteen – 58mn baht
- Area around the hall (roads, pathways and perimeter wall) – 19mn baht
- Landscaping – 7mn baht.
“The total budget is around 465.5 million baht,” Mr Tawee said.
After the new building is opened, the old one will be converted into a museum, Vice Governor Chamroen added.
— Kritsada Mueanhawong
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