The blessing was overseen by Phra Thepwachirakorn, the Deputy Dean of Region 17 under the Thai sangha, and presiding Abbot at Wat Mahathat Wachiramongkol in Ao Luek District, Krabi. The actual blessing ceremony was performed by Pandit Brahmin Jiradet Somkhan.
The Garuda is a deeply revered symbol in Thailand, and has been used as a symbol of the King since the Ayutthaya period. An image of the Garuda still adorns the letterheads of all official documents today.
The Garuda installed at the new Phuket Provincial Hall building yesterday is made of fibreglass, covered with gold leaf. Weighing 30 kilogrammes, the image stands 1.5 metres tall and its wings span 1.5m.
The installation of a Garuda usually marks that the building is now ready for use, as all chattels and fittings are also under the protection of the symbol.
The new Phuket Provincial Hall, located on Tha Kraeng Rd, near Rama IX Park (Suan Luang), was commissioned in 2014, to be built under an initial budget of B450 million, though a report by the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department (PR Phuket) yesterday marked that construction was completed under a budget of B486mn.
The project suffered many critical delays over the years, including the original contractor Chun Eiew Co Ltd losing its workforce amid a crackdown on undocumented migrant workers across the island.
The construction was completed by a new contractor named publicly only as the “Wall and Tesco joint venture” under a separate budget of B196mn.
The full cost of the new Phuket Provincial Hall and the accompanying buildings at the complex, which includes the Aunjai Clinic currently operating at the conference hall at the site, has never been clearly disclosed.
The new Provincial Hall was commissioned to alleviate cramped conditions at the current Phuket Provincial Hall, located on Narisorn Rd in the government quarter on the north side of Phuket Town.
The building is 108 years old. The Fine Arts Department of the Ministry of Culture had the building listed as a protected building of historical importance May 10, 1977.
PR Phuket in its report described the building as colonial architecture, designed and its construction supervised by an Italian craftsman.
The building was constructed during the years 1907-1913, while Phraya Ratsadanupradit Mahison Phakdi, better known as Khaw Simbee Na Ranong, was Governor of Monthon Phuket, which at the time included all the Andaman provinces from Ranong to Satun.
His Majesty King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) proclaimed the “Phuket City Hall” open during his second visit to Phuket on April 22, 1917.
The five-story new Provincial Hall is to be home to some 20 government agencies, PR Phuket noted in its report yesterday.
Some 20 government agencies started operating from the new site on Oct 1, with approximately 486 government officers and staff now working there, PR Phuket said.
The total complex covers an area of 54-1-67 rai, divided into two parts. The main part, covering 25-1-40 rai includings the main Provincial Hall, and the “Auditorium” building (conference hall) and car park building, as well as a small public park area.
Among the offices to relocate to the new site are the Court of Appeals Region 8 office, the Phuket Provincial office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) and the Phuket Provincial Office of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).