The delay is causing huge traffic problems at the busy intersection and causing people to no longer visit the area – a factor that is greatly affecting local businesses, he said.
Civil Engineering Co Ltd is the contractor entrusted to build Chalong Underpass, Mayor Aroon pointed out.
The initial construction contract commenced on July 28, 2015, with a completion date set for September 14, 2017.
“It is only two months away from that deadline. It has been ongoing for two years – and construction is 10% complete,” Mr Aroon told Khao Phuket on Wednesday (June 21). (See story here.)
The contract assigned Civil Engineering Co Ltd a budget of B546 million to complete the underpass, but an oversight saw work on moving the power lines, utility poles and water pipes not beginning until March last year (see story here) – a delay of more than seven months before the first backhoe moved in.
“Local residents are suffering from this construction due to noise and dust in the air,” Mayor Aroon said.
“And then there is the traffic problem, because the two roads (Wist Rd and Chao Fa West Rd) have been reduced to smaller lanes. Some days, traffic tailbacks are up to three to four kilometres long,” he said.
“The budget for this construction has grown to over B540 million, yet there are no more than 20 workers on site,” Mayor Aroon noted.
“I went to the site to ask why they have only been able to do so little work, and I was told the highway does not provide enough space for them to work because of the problem of land expropriation, as the owners of three houses are still negotiating for compensation. Workers are unable to work,” he said.
“I want to urge the Department of Highways to speed up the contractor to proceed. In fact, the process of land expropriation should have been completed and space and other details should have already been prepared. Get ready before you procure the budget, hire contractors and start construction.” Mayor Aroon railed.
“Now the people who are directly affected by this problem are the locals and tourists who use Wiset Rd and the Chao Fa West Rd. I’m not even sure the underpass will be completed within five years. Previously, the three-lane tunnel (Darasamut Underpass) was expected to take the longest time to build (of all the underpasses being built in Phuket), but now the Chalong Underpass promises to take longer,” he said.
Mayor Aroon explained that he had formally requested at meetings for some of the machinery to be removed from the site so that lanes could be re-opend to traffic. “But nothing has progressed yet,” he said.
“Traffic jams at Chalong Circle has also led to people growing tired of traveling to the Rawai area. This has affected people’s incomes because people do not want to visit Rawai,” he added.
Mayor Aroon pointed out that the busy intersection feeds traffic to the three key tourist areas of Rawai, Chalong and Karon.
“And every district suffers from this problem – but Rawai is the most affected, as through Chalong is the main route to get to the Rawai area,” said Mayor Aroon.