The plea came at public-feedback meetings held in Patong yesterday (Aug 22) and repeated at the Kathu Municipality offices today (Aug 23).
The meetings were organised by the Expressway Authority of Thailand (EXAT), which has been tasked with developing the project, as part of the legal requirement for pubic feedback to be sought and considered in filing for the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) application.
Leading the meeting was Pramounrat Chinnarong, Director of EXAT’s Land Acquisition Division, who explained the plans to build a raised expressway with a total length of 3.98 kilometres leading through Patong Hill.
The hill has gained a notorious reputation for hundreds of accidents, many of which have killed scores of people, mostly tourists, and injured hundreds more over the years, Mr Pramounrat noted.
“In 2015, there were 84 accidents resulting in seven deaths on Patong Hill. In 2016, there were 91 accidents resulting in two deaths, but already by the end of June this year there have been 65 accidents on the hill,” he said.
Mr Pramounrat’s assessment did not include the two devastating tour bus crashes in July that killed three people, including a Chinese father and his 10-year-old son on holiday in Phuket, and left nearly 50 people, mostly tourists, injured.
Of note, Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong only last week pointed out that last year there were 260 accidents on the deadly road, and so far this year there have been 125 accidents with many injuries and deaths. (See story here.)
Mr Pramounrat explained to the residents at both meetings that their input was a “must requirement” for completing the EIA application, which he admitted had yet to be approved.
He also explained how they would be compensated fairly by the “Transport Ministry committee” for their land.
“After the prices have been settled, EXAT will pay landowners within 120 days of the owners agreeing to sell their land,” he said.
“If you think think the expropriation values are not fair, we can receive your comments and pass them on to the government. We are transparent in our workings during this survey visit,” Mr Pramounrat said.
“This project has not yet reached its conclusion, it has not yet been finalised. All comments will be taken back to the committee,” he added.
However, under the current plans, construction of parts of the project are scheduled to start in May 2019, Mr Pramounrat noted.
That deadline may have to be revised, he said.