Phuket tollway receives final approval

Phuket tollway receives final approval

The cabinet approved 14.6 billion baht on Tuesday to build the long-delayed 3.98-kilometre Kathu-Patong expressway with investment via public-private partnership (PPP).

Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said the Kathu-Patong expressway aims to ease traffic jams and support Phuket smart city development.

Of the total, 5.79 billion baht is slated for land expropriation cost, while a construction contract is expected through a PPP deal.

He said the Expressway Authority of Thailand is required to call a bid for potential private partners between May and June this year, with the winning bidder expected to start construction in 2023 and open the road in July 2027.

The road is expected to have two lanes for cars and another two for motorcycles in each direction, and includes a 1.85km tunnel. The road runs from Kathu municipality to the beach in the same district.

Phuket authorities hope the tollway will ease traffic congestion on Road 4029, reduce accidents and promote tourism on the resort island. Road 4029 goes over a steep mountain, making it one of the most accident-prone roads in Phuket.

Mr Thanakorn said the new expressway project is a key component of the Phuket smart city development plan.

In a separate development, deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek said the cabinet approved two Industry Ministry regulations. One is for issuance of long-stay visas for 10 years or long-term resident visas to four wealthy groups of visitors, while other allows foreigners to work in Thailand.

The first allows a 10-year Thai visa for approved special visitors, their spouses and children. Visas are for five years initially, with an extension for five years and a 10,000-baht fee a year.

The government aims to draw four groups of rich foreign visitors: wealthy global citizens, wealthy pensioners, remote work professionals, and highly skilled professionals. It hopes to attract more than a million qualified people to Thailand over five years.

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