The message was delivered to representatives from companies including AIS, DTAC, CAT, True and 3BB at a meeting in Patong on Monday (Mar 20), when they were told that the order was issued by the Ministry of Interior in Bangkok on March 9.
The order specified that Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) offices, which collectively own all the power poles that the standard ugly mess of communications cables hang from, and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC), which regulates communications companies, ensure the national eyesore is soon a thing of the past.
The Bangkok order called for the cable clean-up across the country, but identified 12 areas in particular – including Phuket – that need immediate attention.
For Phuket alone, the order specified that the first street to be cleared of messy cables be all 1.2 kilometres of Sai Nam Yen Rd in Patong to be done before the end of this year.
“Untidy cables are a national problem,” said Suparp Kasiwong, Director of Engineering and Service Department at the PEA Area 2 (Southern Thailand) office based in Nakhon Sri Thammarat, who chaired the meeting on Monday.
“All foreigners who have visited Thailand also talk about this mess. Attempts to solve this problem were launched in 2012, but were unsuccessful,” he added.
But for Patong PEA office chief Watcharin Prapha, the move to clean up the cables is just the beginning.
“We will also tidy up the cables along both sides of Rat-U-Thit 200 Pi Rd for 1.2km, including the section that passes in front of the Jungceylon shopping mall, before the end of the year,” he told The Phuket News this week.
“This is now an annual project – and we will tidy up the cables along sections of major roads bit by bit each year,” he added.
However, communications companies will be given time to tidy up the ugly bundles along the streets, Mr Watcharin explained.
“This will take time as we must give the companies enough time to tidy up their own cables without disrupting service to their customers, and we cannot get the budget to do all of Patong as one project, so we must apply for the budget for each section as we do them,” he said.
Mr Watcharin also clarified that the current push to tidy up the cables was unrelated to the Bill Gates complaint in July last year that instantly spurred a B51-billion budget to tidy up the streets of Bangkok – with nothing for Phuket.
“This has nothing to do with that. That one is for Bangkok only,” he said.
However, the next big push is to bury all the unsightly cables – including power mains supply – underground along the Patong beachfront, Mr Watcharin revealed.
“We have already received applications from contractors for the B220mn government tender, but the PEA main office in Bangkok has yet to select which contractor will carry out the work,” he said.
“The date when the project is to begin has also yet to be determined, that also will be decided by Bangkok PEA because this is a such a major project, but we expect to have the contract signed by the end of June,” Mr Watcharin explained.
When the power cables along the beachfront are buried, the messy tangles of communications cables will also disappear, he assured
“Yes, they must go too,” he said.
Additional reporting by Rapipan Suksawat