The news was confirmed by a report released by the Office of the Ombudsman last Friday (Jan 21).
The short-term measures to make the road safer after the outside westbound lane started to collapse due to subsidence in October 2020 were deemed to be appropriate, said the report.
For long-term measures to make the road safer, the report noted, “It was agreed that the dangerous curve should be corrected, which is currently in the process of designing a new curve in the downhill traffic lane to be safe. It will proceed according to the steps, relevant regulations and laws,” said the report.
“At present, Phuket Highways District [office] is unable to assess the amount of land size needed, the budget limit, the cost of land expropriation and the budget for the construction of the new curve to be fixed until the curve design and cost estimation are complete,” the report added.
The existing road will remain vehicles travelling uphill, the report noted.
“It is appropriate to use the original road surface and route [for vehicles travelling up the hill] because there has never been an accident on the road up the mountain in any way,” the report noted.
The Phuket News notes that serious and fatal accidents have occured with large vehicles heading up the hill from Chalong to Kata, but have been much less frequent than accidents involving large vehicles heading down the hill (See sample list of previous accident stories at end of article.)
The report marked that a formal complaint filed about the unsafe state of the road over Kata Hill, which led to National Ombudsman Assoc Prof Issari Hunsajaroonroj inspecting the road in person in November last year, requested that a new road be built for vehicles travelling down the hill.
“The complainant wants a new road to be built by cutting the road through the rubber plantations of the villagers in the area to make it a straight downhill road,” the report noted.
“This will help reduce accidents in the downhill road lane and let the downhill road lane be a new uphill road lane instead and increase the road lanes from the original two road lanes to four road lanes, which will make the traffic of uphill road lanes more streamlined traffic conditions,” the report added.
“The Phuket Provincial Administrative Organization (PPAO, or OrBorJor) does not have the power to expropriate the land to build a road, therefore the PPAO is asking the government agencies involved in the expropriation of the land for building a new road according to the wishes of the complainant,” the report said.
During his inspection of the road late last year, National Ombudsman Mr Issari instructed the Phuket office of the Highways Department to expedite its project to make the road over Kata Hill, from Chalong to Kata, safer following the outside lane collapsing in October 2020.
“The Phuket Highways Office is also to engage with the relevant agencies to integrate solutions to prevent risks that may arise from road subsidence; for example, strict checking of the weight of trucks and other heavy vehicles that are using the road over the hill,” Mr Issari said.
“Alternative routes for tour buses and other vehicles that are too heavy to use the road over the hill, as well as regular motorists and tourists should be identified to reduce accidents and the loss of life,” he added.