Work on the underpass itself began only after nearly a year delay in having power lines, communications cables and pylons moved to make way for the construction, followed by more delays in acquiring the requisite land needed for the project.
The delays embittered many local residents and business owners, especially those in Rawai, to the extent that former Phuket Democrat MP Raywat Areerob along with Chalong Mayor Samran Jindaphol confronted Norraphat Plodthong, the Phuket Governor at the time, at the Governor’s House in Phuket Town on Jan 18 last year to file a formal complaint.
Under the initial contract, the underpass was to open on Sept 14, 2017, allowing for a total of 780 days of construction, Mr Raywat pointed out.
Fed up with the situation, Mr Rayway said plainly, “Since construction started Rawai Municipality has received numerous complaints from residents and business operators about traffic jams at the construction site.
“The late construction will affect the island’s tourism economy, so we have handed this notice to the Phuket Governor to ask exactly what date construction will be finished,” he noted.
That single point did not go unheard. Businesses began going public with their complaints and Governor Norraphat started taking first-hand involvement in site inspections and making changes to speed up traffic flow past the construction site.
The rest, as they say, is history.
However, there is one point that sticks out like a sore thumb: the one lane in each direction being allowed to pass through the tunnel.
We beg the Phuket Highways Office to learn from the opening weeks of the Darasamut Underpass in front of where Central Phuket stands today.
The collisions and injuries came so thick and fast that the entire middle lane of the three-lane underpass was shut down and barriers were installed to help prevent devastating head-on collisions.
Little orange plastic poles not even one metre tall will do nothing to stave off two juggernaut tour buses from slamming into each other, nevermind the carnage that will unfold if a tour bus and a car carrying a family collide.
Phuket Highways Office, please rethink this, and make traffic flow through the tunnel one way, or the other.