So detrimental is the island’s current state of infrastructure support that it may even be affecting decisions by business people in whether or not to invest in Phuket, Mr Thanusak said.
Traffic jams, especially those affecting tourists travelling to and from Phuket International Airport is of vital concern, as is lack of water reserves to ensure water supply to hotels across the island and even poor electricity supply, rated the top of Mr Thanusak’s list.
Mr Thanusak, installed as PCC President on Feb 22, told The Phuket News this week that he invited people to inform him of problems their businesses were facing, and hopefully to provide some solutions to the problems.
“I want the private sector to trust me as the new Phuket Chamber president. I am glad to hear from them. I can help them because the Chamber is a powerful oganisation that can bring the relevant government department to answer questions from the private sector,” he said.
Mr Thanusak explained that he had already identified a slew of issues to be tackled.
“I will call for urgent action to be taken on several problems, such as not enough water, poor electricity supply, the number of road accidents and traffic jams. We need to work on solving these problems,” he said.
Traffic is of particular concern, Mr Thanusak said.
“For tourism, Phuket must be ready to support the number of tourists, especially in terms of transportation. The government must make the new road between the airport and the bypass road to reduce traffic jams and make travelling between the airport and Phuket Town quicker.” he said.
The road, a 12-lane expressway from Koh Kaew to Phuket airport costing B5.5 billion, has been in motion for years, with the Highways Department already confirming the route in 2016.
However, no progress has been made since then. Last year, Norraphat Plodthong, Phuket Governor at the time, called for national government support to expedite the project at a meeting of the Commission for the Management of Land Traffic held in Nai Yang.
Present at the meeting were Commission Chairman Lt Gen Jareasakanee Anupaph, Vice Chairman of the 1st Committee Wanchai Sarattultut, Vice Chairman of the 2nd Committee Admiral Yutthana Fakpholgnarn, and Vice Governors from Phang Nga, Krabi and Ranong.
Among the others present were officials from the Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, local administrations and relevant government agencies in Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga and Ranong.
And still the project remains stalled.
The idea for the new expressway was put forward by Surachai Chaiwat, who served as PCC President from 2015 to 2018, Mr Thanusak explained.
“This road can have many lanes and will reduce traffic problems, in the same way that the motorway from Bangkok to Chonburi has,” he said.
Mr Thanusak noted that PCC has direct links with the Thai Chamber of Commerce in Bangkok, whose president attends a meeting with the prime minister every month.
“And the PCC President also attends meetings with the Phuket governor and the provincial board of the Joint Public and Private Sector Consultative Committee (JPPSCC) every month. I will raise these issues with both the governor and the JPPSCC,” he added.
Mr Thanusak said that the PCC addressing the issues were important for Phuket in attracting new investors.
“The PCC is a one-stop service centre for business people looking to invest in Phuket. The Phuket Chamber must be strong to make the private sector have confidence and trust us,” he said.
“They must feel that the Phuket Chamber of Commerce can help them and coordinate with government departments in solving these problems,” he added.
“And this includes foreign investors,” he stressed.