Mr Surachet explained that the public hearing was part of the feasibility study being conducted to assess “the suitability of engineering, economic impact, finance and environmental impact of the project.
Joining Mr Surachet at the meeting, held at the Royal Phuket City Hotel in Phuket Town, was Phuket Vice Governor Pichet Panapong, who presided over the opening of the event.
Also joining Mr Surachet were representatives from four private companies contracted to conduct the feasibility study: MA Consultants Co Ltd, Asian Generative Consultants Co Ltd, PSK Company Consultants Co Ltd and Pre Development Consultants Co Ltd.
The meeting was held specifically for representatives, including residents, from four subdistricts ‒ Thepkrasattri, Srisoonthorn, Kathu and Koh Kaew ‒ to learn more about the project, Mr Surachet explained.
The results of the feedback and the preliminary and final designs of the expressway will be submitted to the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) as part of the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report, he added.
“In addition, EXAT will conduct a study and analyse the suitability of private investment projects as detailed in Article 22 of the Public-Private Partnership Act B.E. Investors (Market Sounding) of the Muang Mai-Koh Kaew-Kathu Expressway Project in Phuket Province,” Mr Surachet said.
“If the project proceeds on schedule, construction is expected to begin in December 2024 and the expressway will be opened for service in December 2027, after a 15-month feasibility study plan,” he said.
Mr Surachet explained that the expressway is part of a two-project strategy that is aiming to connect the Muang Mai-Koh Kaew-Kathu Expressway to what he called the Kathu-Patong Expressway, known to most people as the Patong Tunnel project.
Reports of progress in the Muang Mai-Koh Kaew-Kathu Expressway over the past year have neglected to mention the cost of the project.
At last report, in March 2020, construction of the expressway was estimated to cost B30 billion, equating to roughly B1.4bn per kilometre for the 22.4km route – a staggering increase on the purported figures from June 2017, which estimated the project costs at approximately B5.5bn.
When asked for a justification and breakdown on the increased costs, Phuket Chamber of Commerce (PCC) President Thanusak Phungdet confirmed to The Phuket News that B12bn is to be allocated for the actual construction costs and the remaining B18bn to be used to acquire the land for the project to be built.