Governor Norraphat announced the news at Phuket Provincial Office yesterday (Aug 16).
“Last year there were 260 accidents on this road, and so far this year there have been 125 accidents with many injuries and deaths,” Gov Norraphat noted.
“During the past three months, there have been three major accidents on Patong Hill that caused injuries and deaths. This damages Phuket’s image,” he added.
“The road from Kathu to Patong is steep and winding for over 4.5 kilometres. This is the main road between Phuket Town and Patong, which is a busy tourism area, so traffic on the road is often heavy and accidents have happened many times,” Gov Norraphat explained.
Gov Norraphat identified three main factors that contribute to causing accidents on Phra Baramee Rd over Patong Hill.
“First is the road’s engineering. The road has sharp curves and steep slopes. When it is raining, the road surface is more slippery than usual,” he said.
“The other factor is the condition of the vehicles. Most accidents happen involve big tour buses that are not registered in Phuket. Some of these buses from out of Phuket are poorly maintained, and the knowledge and behaviour of these drivers is a factor, as they do not follow instructions, which leads to reckless driving and accidents,” he added.
The Phuket Provincial Office has approved a budget of B2 million to upgrade the surface of the road and install high-grip areas at three specific locations along the section of road from the Wyndham Sea Pearl Resort to Patong Temple at the bottom of the hill.
Other works to come include adding more warning signs to more clearly instruct drivers to reduce speed, emergency escape lanes for heavy vehicles that suffer brake failure and to make the road wider at certain sections.
The Phuket Highways Office has been instructed to make this happen, Gov Norraphat explained.
Further, Gov Norraphat stipulated that a committee that he has already formed has been tasked with investigating check tour companies to find how much they spend on hiring buses on the understanding that cheap tours encourages cost-cutting by bus operators, leading to more dangerous vehicles being used to carry tourists around the island.
The committee will also check that tour buses dedicated to carrying tourists in Phuket undergo safety checks twice a year.
“Starting this Saturday (Aug 19), every heavy vehicle entering Phuket must undergo a safety check at Phuket Checkpoint at Tha Chatchai to make sure it is safe to be driven on the island,” Gov Norraphat revealed.
Officers will also be stationed at the Thung Thong Police checkpoint, on the eastern side of Patong Hill, to ensure vehicles are safe to the climb up – and down – the steep inclines.
Any vehicles that fail the checks will not be allowed into Phuket or over Patong Hill, Gov Norraphat assured.
A further measure was to extend the hours that Phuket tour buses and other heavy vehicles are not permitted to travel over Patong Hill from 4pm-11pm each night. The ban was previously from 4pm to 7pm each night.
Heavy vehicles are already banned from travelling over the hill from 6am-9am each day.
“The committee has already ordered the Traffic Police to enforce this,” Gov Norraphat said.
Traffic Police have also already been directly orderd by the Governor to use speed cameras to get motorists to reduce speed on Patong Hill, he added.
The committee must report to Gov Norraphat in 15 days all updates on progress made on the implementing the safety measures on Patong Hill.
“The committee is also to make recommendations about what safety measures can be introduced on the roads from Kamala and Karon into Patong. This must be included in the report,” he said.
“Many accidents in Phuket are caused by speed. The traffic law must be strictly enforced,” Gov Norraphat said.