He has also criticised the contractor, Civil Engineering Co Ltd, and the government tender bidding process for failing to complete the project on time.
“We have expanded the lanes [past the site] as much as we could to ease traffic congestion, but we have still run into many problems,” he said during an inspection of the site yesterday (August 25).
“We were aware that when the project started that excavation of the land and the condition of the road surface would be issues we would have to deal with. What worries us the most now is the condition of the road, which must be improved for the sake of safety. We have to fix the damage to the road fast.”
Mr Samak apologised for the project not being completed on time.
“When the construction company signed the contract to finish the underpass on time and agreed to furnish it with all safety measures required by the Highways Department, we hoped the company would be able to deliver that.
“Now we have been told that the company did its best to wrap up the project on time, but they have exceeded their deadline. They have failed to deliver the project on time,” he said.
The original deadline for opening the underpass was June 25, 2015. However, an unforeseen issue with excavating past municipal drains saw the deadline moved to August 2015. (See story here.)
The company has now failed that, and only last month informed The Phuket News that the underpass was now not expected to be complete until March 2016 (See story here.)
Mr Samak also flamed the selection process for the government contract to build the underpass.
“Many construction companies are capable of getting the work done, but they did not bid for the project and government officials in charge of the hiring did not look for the best construction companies with the highest bid – but only focused on the qualified companies that had the lowest bids,” he said.
“All over the country, big projects like this always face many problems. We feel sorry for residents and tourists that have to go through this because we have narrow roads and do not have alternative routes past this point.
“We want this project completed as quickly as possible, but everything must be done in accordance with the agreement between us and the contractor.
“Our apologies to everyone affected by this project. We have ordered the contractor to wrap up the project and open the underpass as soon as possible,” Mr Samak added.