Mr Suchart was in Phuket yesterday (Dec 18) to preside over a meeting to confirm updates in the progress of Patong Tunnel project.
Present at the meeting, held at the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) Region 18 headquarters in Phuket Town, was Phuket Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana and relevant officers.
The Patong Tunnel project was initially included in the strategic plan for private investment in government activities 2015-2019, Mr Suchart explained.
The State Enterprise Policy Office approved the plan on April 3, 2015, and presented it to the Cabinet on May 26, 2015, he added.
“For this project, the government has to pay landowners B5.792 billion in compensation in order to acquire the land needed, and total construction cost for the project is B8.385bn,” Mr Suchart said.
“The total cost for this project is around B14.177bn,” he said plainly.
The new total cost for the project shows an increase of B260 million since Wilairat Sirisoponsilp Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Transport’s Office of Transport and Traffic Policy, explained in in Phuket in June last year that the required investment totalled B13.917bn.
“Of this, B5.686bn is dedicated to acquiring the land and B8.231bn for the construction,” Ms Wilairat said at the time. (See story here.)
Mr Suchart yesterday also explained that EXAT has filed a request to the Phuket Provincial Natural Resources and Environment Office and the Forest Resources Management Office 12 in Krabi in order to use protected forest area under the care of Royal Forest Department in order to continue with the project.
“The Phuket Provincial Natural Resources and Environment office has presented a forest inspection report as well as added opinions on forest conditions. They will present the report to Phuket Governor to check and approve,” Mr Suchart said.
“Then the report will be presented to the Usage of National Reserved Forest Committee and the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment to consider,” he added.
“I will present the forest inspection report to the State Enterprise Policy Office and the Cabinet later,” Mr Suchart said after the meeting.
“I expect that by the middle of next year the project will be approved and construction to start by the middle of 2022,” he said.
However, the project will take around one year just to have a concessionaire selected, in accordance with the requirements stipulated in the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) Act 2019, Mr Suchart noted.
“If this project goes well, it will benefit local people and tourists in avoiding traffic jams and prevent accidents while people drive over Patong Hill. According to the current project plan, the tunnel way will open in 2026,” he said.