Wongsakorn ‘Bank’ Chanakit, the Bhumjaithai Party candidate for Phuket District 2 in the national election this Sunday (May 14), made the claim during an inspection of the work to install a new pump at the underpass yesterday (May 9).
Mr Wongsakorn’s claim follows all three pumps in the underpass failing following a heavy downpour about 2am Monday morning leaving the underpass flooded.
The tunnel was closed for safety Monday morning ‒ after a seven-car pileup. The tunnel remained closed throughout Monday night and most of Tuesday as ensuing works to clear the floodwaters continued, together causing major traffic disruptions along the busy bypass road.
Of note, the pump-system failure came just hours after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha visited Phuket to attend a campaign rally at Saphan Hin.
“This tunnel has been open for almost 10 years, but has never had major maintenance, and now water inside the tunnel from heavy rain resulted in the electricity in the tunnel having to be turned off,” Mr Wongsakorn said, according to a report by the Phuket Info Center.
The Darasamut Underpass actually fully opened on Apr 7, 2015. The project, measuring 820 metres length in total, with the tunnel itself measuring about 128m, cost just over B600 million to build and took just over two years to complete.
“The system inside the tunnel may have reached its lifespan. It must be maintained. The Highways Office has been operating at full capacity as it is now, but it still lacks the budget to keep the [tunnel equipment] in operation,” Mr Wongsakorn said.
“As I understand it, in the past several years there has not been any major repairs at all,” he continued.
“Personally, I will try to coordinate with the relevant agencies. In order to request for budget allocation to repair and maintain the tunnel,” Mr Wongsakorn added.
Mr Wongsakorn’s comments came late yesterday afternoon after Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO) President Rewat Areerob ordered the Phuket provincial branch of teh Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM-Phuket) to provide a pump to help clear the standing floodwaters.
The underpass was declared reopened to traffic in both directions just before midday yesterday, but the southbound lane through the tunnel was closed again after the third pump failed.
The southbound lane remained closed while the DDPM pump was installed.
Of note, DDPM-Phuket Chief Udomporn Kan has yet to comment on any assistance provided by DDPM-Phuket.
Likewise, Yuttana Pitak, Director of Phuket Highways Office, which is responsible for maintaining the underpass safety equipment, has also yet to make any public comment on the underpass’s pump system failure.
After the DDPM pump was installed, the southbound lane through the underpass reopened again at about 8:30pm last night.
However, the southbound lane was closed again at 9:40am today while more repairs continued, and reopened again at about 12:20pm.
megamind | 11 May 2023 - 18:59:39