PHUKET: Thailand's Government want to fast-track Phuket's public transport development as soon as possible, Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha said today.
He was speaking to Phuketwan before meeting one of several engineering construction firms that all appear keen to pursue the project, whether it's a light rail system or a bus network.
Governor Tri said: ''I was contacted by the government three days ago and they are extremely keen to pursue this project, whether the construction company is Chinese or Korean.''
He told Phuketwan that he intended to reschedule all the leading contenders for presentations on Phuket over the next two months and within a week appoint a special committee to announce the winning company before the end of 2012.
Today it was the turn again of Korea-based Dohwa Engineering to make a presentation, with President of the Railway/Metro Division Sung-Min Lee involved for the first time.
Mr Lee said the process for the Phuket project seemed longer than most. When asked when the company would be in a position to start construction, he said: ''Immediately.''
While Dohwa has plenty of experience in Korea and has constructed projects in Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia, this would be their first project in Thailand.
''Phuket has potential, with tourist numbers growing,'' Mr Lee said when asked why Dohwa was interested in public transport on Phuket.
Cabinet approval should see the Phuket project pursued more effectively from now on, but the Phuket governor's special committee will need to cut through quite a bit of project-speak to reach the core pieces of information.
For example, like many of the bidders, Dohwa's figures on the number of tourists visiting Phuket seem grossly inflated. Unless the figures on tourists are accurate, the sums won't add up.
Here are some of the key questions that the special committee needs to answer:
..How many tourists arriving on Phuket by air will want to take the long way around journey through Phuket City, on the east coast, when it's much, much faster to take a cab or a bus down the west coast direct to Surin, Kamala Patong and Kata-Karon?
..Phuket's traffic congestion and road safety will only be improved if local also use the system, whether it's light rail or buses. How will Phuket's administration force Phuket's population to give up their highly-convenient yet dangerous motorcycles to catch public transport instead?
..How will constructors make money on their project if the fare is pitched beyond what locals are willing to pay?
Phuketwan's view is that while there are any number of worthy contenders for the project, making it better value than a motorcycle is the hardest part. If it's only for tourists, then it's a huge waste of money.