Patong tunnel 'could be reality in five years'
PHUKET: The road tunnel under Patong Hill, between Kathu and Patong, could be completed in as little as five years.
Friday 8 June 2012, 07:35PM
The prediction came today (June 8) from Aiyanat Tinapai, Governor of the Expressway Authority of Thailand (EAT) in a meeting with Vice-Governor Sommai Prijasilpa, Patong Mayor Pian Keesin and relevant officials.
The Ministry of Transport recently gave the EAT responsibility for getting the project under way.
Studies and plans would take about two years and construction another three, said Mr Aiyanat.
The total cost would be about B6 billion, he added. Where that money will come from is not yet clear. There are two main possibilities:
The first would be for the EAT to raise loans itself for the project, backed by government guarantees. It would then hire the contractors and would manage the tunnel after completion, taking tolls to recoup its investment and repay the loans.
Another way would be for the project to be put out to tender on a BOT (build, operate, transfer) basis.
Under this option a private company would pay for the entire project, would built it, operate it until it has recouped its investment and made an agreed profit, and then transfer it over to a local government department to run.
This is the way the Phuket Deep Sea Port was built more than 30 years ago. It is still run by the company that built it, Chao Phraya Terminal International Co, which has yet to recoup its entire investment.
The approach road to the tunnel would start in Phang Meuang Sai Kor Rd in Patong, to the north of the APK resort, while at the other end the ramp from the tunnel would join the road through Kathu at the western end of the dual carriageway, close to the go-kart track.
A great deal of land will have to be bought for approach roads. The cost of this, Mayor Pian estimated, will be around B1 billion.
Mr Aiyanat and Mr Pian agreed to meet soon for further discussions on the project.