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U-turning despite signs at  the Bypass Road gap on June 12

Unsafe U-turn Stays Open as Officials Dither

Thursday, June 12, 2008
QUESTION: What happens when there's a risky U-turn on Phuket and authorities meet to declare it unsafe? Answer: Not a lot, and certainly not in a hurry.

On June 6, police, Highways Department staff and officials from Phuket International Hospital met at the Phuket City Provincial Administration Offices and decided the Bypass Road turning point outside the hospital had to be closed.

Yet on June 12, drivers on motorcycles and in cars were still queuing up to make U-turns into the potentially dangerous fast-flowing Bypass Road traffic.

Signs make it plain that U-turns are banned at the spot. It is intended to allow access only to the hospital. But scores of motorists break the law to make a U-turn there every hour, day and night.

A call to the Phuket City police station produced the response that Phuketwan should direct questions about closing the turning point to the Highways Department.

At the Highways Department, an official said they were waiting for documents from the Governor's office before the U-turn could be closed.

''I can't do anything, even though there has been agreement, until I have the official documents,'' a spokesman said.

But when the documents are received, that does not mean the U-turn will be closed immediately.

The Highways Department first has to erect signs, telling motorists that the closure will happen on a specific date, giving them at least seven days' notice.

The closure will then be tested for one month and if it is considered a success, become permanent.

A spokeswoman at the hospital said that the turning spot was risky because of the speed of passing traffic. Visitors at the hospital complained about the wait to turn into the hospital because of drivers making illegal U-turns.

A police spokesperson said the U-turn gap should really be closed immediately, having been declared unsafe.

An officer at the gap would make a small fortune for the police department writing tickets for drivers going against the signs to make a U-turn.

When the gap is eventually closed, drivers will have the alternatives of a U-turn at Central Festival or more than a kilometre away at Tesco-Lotus.

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Wednesday January 19, 2022
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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