“We well know that public transportation issues have left in Phuket in a critical situation, and this includes all issues, including those at from Phuket International Airport,” Gen Arkhom told a meeting of Phuket officials at phuket Boat Lagoon, in Koh Kaew, today (Mar 20).
“The NCPO has provided the support needed for the tunnels (underpasses) along on the main road Route 402 (Thepkrasattri Rd). The Darasamuth and Sam Kong underpasses are open, and one lane will be opened through the Bang Khu underpass to resolve traffic jams until the Bang Khu underpass opens in August this year,” he added.
Gen Arkhom pointed out that the light-rail project, to provide a mass-transit system connecting Thanoon in Phang Nga with Chalong Circle, will be presented for its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval before the year’s end.
“We will push for this (light-rail) project to move forward by allocating a B31bn budget,” he said.
Regarding the decades-in-coming Patong Tunnel, connecting Phuket’s busiest tourist town with the east side of the island, Mr Arkom noted, “The Expressway Authority of Thailand (EXAT) has completed studies on the Kathu–Patong Rd. EXAT is pushing to get more budget to make the Kathu-Patong route an expressway (toll road).
“This project is also in the process of having its environmental effects report compiled, but when complete will resolve many traffic jams,” he said.
Gen Arkhom added that the “new bypass” road, covering 22km from Thepkrasattri Rd in Koh Kaew to the main road feeding Phuket International Airport in Sakoo, already has a budget of B13bn allocated towards its completion.
“The road will be finished by 2018,” he said.
“Also, B12bn has been allocated for further expansion at Phuket International Airport, which will include increasing the parking areas for cars and taxis,” he added.
“All these projects together, to resolve traffic problems in Kathu, Patong, Sakoo and Koh Kaew, and including the light rail, are included a budget totalling B71bn,” Gen Arkhom explained.
“When we compare this cost with the B300 to 400 billion that Phuket generates each year, it is worth it,” he said.
“Phuket is one of the best the international tourism provinces and a main source of income for the country, and we need to pay attention to our investment in its infrastructure.”
However, Gen Arkhom noted that even today’s plans were limited for the future.
“All of above, even with the new forms of transport, still mean that we need to focus on resolving the traffic issues – otherwise traffic jams will be still a problem,” he said.