A group of high ranking officials inspected Samkong Underpass last Friday (Jan 5). The delegation included Chief Ombudsman of Thailand and Regional Director of IOA Asia Viddhavat Rajatanun; National Ombudsman of Thailand Boon Tapanadul; Secretary-General of Office of the Ombudsman of Thailand Raksagecha Chaechai; Phuket Vice Governor Snith Sriwihok; Phuket Highway Office Director Somwang Lohanut and Chris Field, Second Vice-President of IOI and Western Australian Ombudsman.
“Mr Field was on an official visit to Thailand so we used this chance to invite him to join the inspection of the project which is an example of successful problem solving by the Office of the Ombudsman of Thailand,” Gen Viddhavat said.
Gen Viddhavat reminded that there had been several delays during the construction of the underpass, so the Office of the Ombudsman of Thailand had to inerfier in 2016.
“Having received the complaints, Mr Boon inspected the site (read here) and found that the deadline head been pushed forward five times. The deadlines had been extended due to issues with traffic management during long holidays. The contractor also struggled with underground utility systems. The construction was finished by the end of 2016 as a result of cooperation between relevant government offices and properly made follow-ups,” Gen Viddhavat noted.
“This inspection is a good opportunity for the ombudsmen from two counties to exchange ideas and disciss real examples of complaint management and to strenghten cooperation in problem solving,” he added.
The Samkong Underpass was officially opened on December 20, 2016, more than 18 months behind schedule.
The plague of problems encountered during construction included flooding, a road collapse and workers having to move water mains pipes that the construction teams apparently were not informed of.
The project saw Phuket Highways Office Project Engineer Chalermpon Wongkietkun, who was tasked with overseeing the construction, resigning his post in Phuket. Speaking to The Phuket News in 2016, Mr Chalermpon called the project “a never-ending loop of suffering” (read more here).
At that time it was reported that contractor Vivat Construction Co Ltd, which built the underpass with a government budget of B834 million, faced fines totalling at least B570mn for breach of contract late completion.