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Phuket Opinion: The dangerous road ahead

PHUKET: The announcement this week by Phuket Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada that the Highways Department had chosen the actual route the 12-lane expressway will take, at a cost of B5.5 billion, to ease traffic heading to and from Phuket Airport comes amid a horror week in Phuket road safety.

tourism, construction, transport, accidents, death, economics, opinion,


The Phuket News

Sunday 11 September 2016, 09:00AM


Phuket Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada announced the route of the B5.5 billion road this week, but little is being done to redress the dangerous condition of the existing roads already killing Phuket motorists. Photo: Darawan Naknakhon
Phuket Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada announced the route of the B5.5 billion road this week, but little is being done to redress the dangerous condition of the existing roads already killing Phuket motorists. Photo: Darawan Naknakhon

It beggars belief how much money is about to be spent on such a development, especially in light of the fact that the road will have no impact at all on easing traffic in and around Phuket Town or over the steep hills where tour vehicles often fall off the road.

It is interesting to note that every Phuket Governor in office is involved in the announcement or rolling out of a multi-billion-baht mega-project, no matter how short is their term as Governor of Phuket. Governor Chamroen had the chance to be involved in this project just weeks before his term draws to a close on Sept 30.

The B5.5bn expressway is to include four lanes each way with a separate lane on each side for motorcycles and an independent track alongside in both directions specifically dedicated to bicycles. On paper and in CGI, it looks beautiful, but it must be placed in context beside the deafening silence from local officials about lethal state of Phuket’s existing road infrastructure

In terms of construction efficacy, we must keep in mind that the expressway announcement came as the Sam Kong Underpass passed well over a year beyond its initial completion date, with work still to be done. (See story here)

In terms of repairs to major roads, we also must keep in mind took more than 10 years to finally level out the dangerous warped road surface at the bottom of the very steep hill on the road between Patong and Karon – probably the most travelled road in Phuket by tourists renting motorbikes.

While one would hope that such extravagant funds would first be allocated to improving the current diabolical state of road safety in Phuket, without putting any gloss on our hopes, the simple reality is: fat chance.

Phuket’s governing authorities couldn’t even spend B2.4 million on a roundabout where last year alone five motorists died and 36 motorists were injured in road accidents without receiving the funds from a UK-based road-safety charity, the Safer Roads Foundation. And that black spot, even in the middle of the old government quarter in Phuket Town, was not even a blip on The Phuket News’ radar as a dangerous site. (See story: here)

http://www.thephuketnews.com/phuket-to-unveil-b2-4m-roundabout-57290.php

Roadworks along Srisoonthorn Rd have already killed unsuspecting motorists, and residents in nearby Baan Ya are plugging sandbags in giant potholes to prevent more accidents in their area.

This is not to discount the deadly driving habits of Phuket motorists themselves, which together with the current state of the roads, is strong evidence for the Darwinian theory of each species testing the boundaries of survival.

In Phuket, no matter how well the roads are designed and what safety features are installed, they mean nothing if the appalling driver behaviour continues, as evidenced with the deadly accidents in Chalong this week.

No one will deny that Phuket is in dire need of a secondary road network, probably now more than ever, but one suspects that the only publicly available reason for spending so much money on such a road harks back to the chaos caused by the Thalang riots which stifled traffic along Thepkrasattri Rd, resulting in scores of tourists missing their flights and one man dying while being transferred between hospitals by ambulance.

Obviously, in the eyes of the powers that be, such an embarrassment should never happen again.

 

 

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Kurt | 11 September 2016 - 14:37:32

Yes Fritz Pinguin, you are very right.
Unfortunately the Governor has no time now for such 'minor' issues..
He is busy with his 5.5 billion baht new ( 12 lanes) road project through Phuket landscape, causing another environment disaster before he leaves Phuket on September 30.

To him, keeping existing roads in good condition, it means nothing.
We have seen that during his very short governorship on Phuket.
There are even neighborhoods were people themselves put sandbags in potholes, or put flags at potholes as the road has to lights at night, and many accidents already happened.

Well, thai priorities are sometimes different from normal priorities. 
We just have to deal with it.

Last year June 2015 the Patong tunnel building preparation was with all thai paperwork and budget on track, we were promised the Patong tunnel building would have started June 2016.
It didn't. This Governor leaves Phuket with that negative fact on his record. 
Light rail? Talks, Non fact.
A 12 lane new road were it is not needed? Talks, Non fact.

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Christy Sweet | 11 September 2016 - 13:22:34

"Bicycle" lanes will be filled with vendors and of course, inconsiderate Thai drivers will simply park in the left lane to get to them, so right away mark off 4 of the 12 lanes. 

Remaining lanes will feature warp 5 speeds so patrons slowing for that BBQ or whatever meal  will make for even more hazards- there goes another two lanes of safety. Then drivers will be pulling out from the parking lanes into cars traveling at 160 kph. 

As whenever roads are "improved" facilitating faster speeds,  I predict complete carnage and mayhem with unprecedented amounts of death and destruction. 
There is just no mechanism, much less will to change the horrible habits of the vast majority of Thai drivers- especially taxi vans.

 This porker is all about supporting the taxi industry, it's as regressive as it gets. There is just no hope for this nation when this sort of non-answer is considered acceptable.

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Fritz Pinguin | 11 September 2016 - 11:29:13

"keep in mind took more than 10 years to finally level out the dangerous warped road surface at the bottom of the very steep hill on the road between Patong and Karon"

Try to ride that road, it is still not done. Especially the most dangerous part heading down from Centara Villas is in the old state. And getting out of Patong, the left turn after Simon Cabaret developes the first potholes already. A lousy job been done all way long! Coming down from former Safari Pub into Patong the road is wobbly and the drains are a hazard to every motorbike.

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