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Phuket Opinion: How to improve the island's traffic woes

OPINION: After another bout of mindlessly waiting at traffic lights and construction sites in and around Central, a reader decided to rant in this letter at how the Phuket officials have got it 180° out.

Monday 30 September 2013, 12:17PM


Phuket government has obviously seen a problem but instead of looking correctly at this issue they have gone for the ‘finger in the dyke syndrome’.

Constructing underpasses and overpasses and any other type of passes they can think of will not solve this problem, there are just too many vehicles on the inadequate roads of Phuket.

They say it will take approximately 2 years for all this construction to be finished (questionable). In that time another 10,000 vehicles will be on the island making these stop gap measures out of date and untenable.

All the while, whilst these ‘notions of change’ are being constructed two very large car showrooms with servicing workshops are being finished off in the north of the island.

Couple this with the Thai government’s policy of giving new car owners a lump sum back for purchasing a new vehicle (more on this later) makes a prediction of an extra 10,000 cars on the island in two years seem rather conservative.

This ‘money back to new vehicle owner’s scheme’ is falsely encouraging people to go out and purchase a new car, even though some of them cannot afford it.

The advertising campaign is obviously working but its working to the detriment of people in Thailand and of places like Phuket.

The answer? Wow this is the 6 million dollar conundrum. What is happening in Phuket right now will not work, period!

There are too many outside agencies that are pushing things like this through for alternative motives. They are not interested in whether cars wait at junctions for long periods of time, they don’t care whether roads become snarled because of volume, and they have little sympathy in there not being enough car parking for the amount of cars in Phuket.

Perhaps when people come here to Phuket, whether it’s for work (Thais and foreigners) or just to live, say any period over 3 months they have to register with the Phuket Administration.

So when Phuket Administration go for their yearly budget from Government, the Thai Government can clearly see just how many people are on the island and award the budget accordingly.

Anyone who fits this criteria about registering, caught driving a vehicle without being recorded will be fined and have their vehicle impounded. You could even put a levy on registering; say B200 for the first car. This allows cash to come into the office which can be spent on further infrastructure and will encourage people to start thinking about the vehicle situation.

Plus if a family has more than one car to register they will have to pay extra (1 car B200, +1 car B300, +1 car B400 etc). Again all these things are put into practice to try and help the island not trying to be autocratic or repressive.

The actual map of Phuket is quite intriguing, with the majority of houses amassing in and around the thoroughfares.

To really study the Google map and the topography of the island you can clearly see a lot of presence in certain areas. What lies beyond these neighborhoods are cleared grounds that could be used to develop better infrastructure.

Using these areas at well know bottle neck points along with the current roads would allow Phuket to have a great road and rail system. Plus developing these areas behind all the façade would impair little to the day to day running of the island.

Of course this is not a quick time solution, this will take a great deal of planning, of getting people to buy into the idea and last but by no means least the construction. But at least people could see change and development happening for the better of the island.

Whilst I am on this rant, it would be progressive if the centre of Phuket town was made into a pedestrian only area. You develop certain areas outside the town to have “Park and Ride schemes’.

Using the public transport keeps vehicles out of the centre, develops a revenue source and more importantly helps protect the beautiful buildings that are there now.

If something is not done these historical landmarks will be damaged beyond repair from all the fumes coming from all the vehicles that constantly block the inadequate roads in and around Phuket town.

Having these walking only areas would encourage more people to visit, allow them to walk freely without the possibility of being mown down and develop a whole new industry of coffee houses, shops, restaurants etc.

When it comes to festivals nothing would change as the place would be pedestrians only. Having this attraction would not only draw people into the place, it would encourage them to walk more, which promotes healthy living.

One final rant, could the Thai driving schools plus tests either include or improve the teaching of reversing, slow driving in the outside lane, vehicles that should not be anywhere near public roads, MOT, driving with fog lights on, speeding, not obeying traffic lights or road markings, driving on the wrong side of the road, no lights, 17 people on 1 motorbike, no helmets, people obviously not having a license etc.

 

 

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