During a recent gathering at the Prachuap Provincial Hall, Mr. Nipon Suwannawa, Vice Chairman of the Corporate Governance Committee for Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, put forward a proposal. He suggested that another meeting should take place in September, involving the Public-Private Joint Committee (Gor.), which includes representatives from both public and private sectors. The aim of this meeting would be to extend an invitation to officials from the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), the entity overseeing the double-track railway project. The purpose is to discuss safety regulations, prompted by the railway’s announcement that the Nakhon Pathom to Chumphon railway will become operational by the year’s end.
Mr. Nipon, elaborating on this course of action, highlighted a notable development tied to the construction of a horseshoe bridge that spans the double-track railway, connecting Muang Prachuap District to Bang Saphan Noi District. This venture, although progress has been made, encountered a peculiar obstacle when solar-powered lights affixed to the bridge began to disrupt tourists who were navigating the region. The unfamiliarity with the altered route led to grievances, as the bridge’s uneven surface proved problematic for various modes of transportation. The uneven road surface was exacerbated by the absence of proper asphalt paving, a matter attributed to the contractor overseeing the project. Moreover, it was revealed that the construction team responsible for the double-track railway is considering the creation of drainage channels to mitigate potential flooding in select areas.
Offering a perspective from the political realm, Prachuap Phongthavoradet, a member of parliament from the Democratic Party representing Prachuap Khiri Khan, expressed readiness to present a live discourse in the House of Representatives. The intention behind this discourse is to pose inquiries to the Minister of Transport and the State Railway of Thailand, seeking clarifications surrounding the rationale behind constructing a double-track railway bridge from Prachuap Municipality to Bang Saphan Noi District. The concern lies in the discrepancy between the quality of the construction and the substantial costs incurred. The inadequacy of safety standards and the unevenness of the traffic surface have raised doubts about the readiness of the bridge for public use. Prachuap Phongthavoradet advocates for transparent communication, urging the railway authorities to inform local communities about the status of each commissioned bridge, including renovations. He further proposes conducting a trial run for those involved to substantiate the situation on the ground.
Upon closer inspection, reporters discovered a mosaic of issues surrounding the temporary overpass spanning the double-track railway near the southern enclave of Na Rong Community in Prachuap Khiri Khan Municipality. These concerns manifested as uneven road surfaces and certain unfinished sections. The structural integrity and safety standards of several key bridges, including those at Ban Nong Hin, Ban Wa Gor, Khlong Wan Subdistrict, Ban Nong Phrom, Huai Sai Subdistrict, Samuttharam Temple, Huai Yang, Thap Sakae, Tok Ta Hom, Ban Krut, and Bang Saphan District, have faced queries and criticism from the local populace. The core issue resided in the lack of uniformity in road surfaces and inadequate lighting standards.
Simultaneously, another aspect worth noting is the plight of certain overpasses constructed within the Muang District to Bang Saphan Noi District corridor. These overpasses underwent a transition of responsibility from the initial bidder to a local contractor. This shift led to a cascade of challenges, the most glaring being delayed wage payments that culminated in some instances of abandoned work. The Don Sai overpass in Ko Lak Subdistrict, Wing 5 Wing, Mueang Prachuap District, stands as a poignant example of this scenario, where a hiatus lasting over nine months halted progress. Scrutiny also uncovered discrepancies between planned designs and the executed construction at select points on this bridge.
As Prachuap Khiri Khan navigates the intricate path of railway expansion, the coming months are poised to witness deliberations, evaluations, and perhaps resolutions, all of which will inevitably shape the trajectory of the province’s infrastructure and safety initiatives.