PHUKET: Surachet Laophulsuk, Governor of the Expressway Authority of Thailand (EXAT), was in Phuket on Monday July 4 to lead the first public feedback hearing on the 30 billion baht Muang Expressway construction plans Mai-Koh Kaew-Kathu.
Mr. Surachet explained that the public hearing was part of the feasibility study carried out to assess “the adequacy of the engineering, economic, financial and environmental impact of the project.
Phuket Deputy Governor Pichet Panaphong presided over the opening of the event.
Also joined by Mr. Surachet were representatives of four private companies contracted to conduct the feasibility study: MA Consultants Co Ltd, Asian Generative Consultants Co Ltd, PSK Company Consultants Co Ltd and Pre Development Consultants Co Ltd.
The meeting was organized specifically for representatives, including residents, from four sub-districts – Thepkrasattri, Srisoonthorn, Kathu and Koh Kaew – to learn more about the project, Mr Surachet explained.
The results of the feedback and the preliminary and final designs of the highway will be submitted to the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment report (EIA) of the project, he added.
“In addition, EXAT will conduct a study and analyze the suitability of private investment projects as detailed in Article 22 of the Public-Private Partnership Law BE Investors (Market Sounding) of the Muang Mai Expressway Project- Koh Kaew-Kathu in the province of Phuket,” said Mr. Surachet.
“If the project proceeds on schedule, construction is expected to start in December 2024 and the expressway will be put into operation in December 2027, after a 15-month feasibility study plan,” he said.
Mr. Surachet explained that the highway was part of a two-project strategy to link the Muang Mai-Koh Kaew-Kathu highway to what he called the Kathu-Patong highway, known to most people as the Patong Tunnel Project.
Reports on the progress of the Muang Mai-Koh Kaew-Kathu expressway over the past year failed to mention the cost of the project.
At last report, in March 2020, the construction of the highway was estimated at 30 billion baht, or about 1.4 billion baht per kilometer for the 22.4 km route – a staggering increase on the supposed figures of June 2017, which estimated the project costs at around 5.5 billion baht.
When asked for a rationale and breakdown of the cost increase, Phuket Chamber of Commerce (PCC) Chairman Thanusak Phungdet confirmed Phuket News that 12 billion baht should be allocated to the actual construction costs and that the remaining 18 billion baht should be used to acquire the land for the project to be built.