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Officials will spend more than B51 billion on burying power cables in Bangkok in response to Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates sledging Thailand for its ugly cable tangles along the streets – but Phuket will not get any special funding to remove one of the best known eyesores throughout the country.
The philanthropist posted an image of a tangle of wires hanging from a power pole on his blog GatesNotes and wrote: “Due to faulty infrastructure, many urban areas suffer from frequent blackouts and power cuts, and the electrical grid often doesn’t serve the people who need it most.
Watcharin Prapa, Manager of the PEA office in Patong, confirmed that his office will receive nothing from the push to bury cables. “But the B200 million project to install cables underground along Thaweewong Rd (the Patong beachfront road) is going ahead,” he said.
“We will have a second public hearing later this month, after the first public hearing in June failed to gain public approval,” he added.
The Patong “mass burial of cables” project aims to install cables underground along three kilometres of Thaweewong Rd. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed with a contractor last year, but since then the project has met some opposition.
The project is estimated to take about 18 months, “But we can’t even estimate when construction will begin until the approval process is complete,” Mr Watchanrin said.
Opposition to the project stemmed from concerns over how cables will be installed underground, among other factors, he explained.
“The are also concerns over the how the cables are going to be installed and the equipment to be used to carry out the project,” he said.
Patong Mayor Chalermluck Kebsup noted that the project was to start in April last year.
“I wish the PEA would start this project soon. It should have started in April 2016, but it still has not gone ahead.
“I will arrange to meet with the PEA Governor in Bangkok about this. If we are late again in pushing this through, this project might be postponed and not even be started this year,” Mayor Chalermluck added.