In pothole position, it's life in the slow lane

In pothole position, it's life in the slow lane

Buri Ram: Locals say roads in the same province as Thailand's newest racetrack are some of the worst, and most dangerous, in the country.

Villagers in Phutthaisong’s Ban Yang and Mafueang subdistricts have been forced to endure the dangerous, dilapidated roads, despite a decade of repeated calls for authorities to fix them. Locals say their calls to have the issue dealt with have fallen on deaf ears. About 80km from the new Chang International Circuit and the cheering crowds in Buri Ram province, there are extremely unsafe roads, they say.

Farmer Wanchai Sailum, 68, regularly rides his motorbike along a 5km road from Dontum village to his field near the Ban Yang Tambon Administrative Organisation (TAO), which is in charge of the area.

Mr Wanchai said it took him almost an hour to zigzag around holes in the 5km road, and conditions in the rainy season make it worse. The bad roads also affect villagers from Ban Yang and Mafueang subdistricts.

“Many journalists came to report [on the hardship of villagers]. But nothing has changed,” he told the Bangkok Post Sunday.

The road was initially under the control of the Department of Rural Roads, but was later transferred to Ban Yang TAO’s responsibility between 2002 and 2003 as part of the government’s decentralisation policy.

However, Ban Yang TAO found it difficult to maintain the road because of limited funds.

Ban Yang TAO officials said they had received many complaints from residents, but did not have the budget to fix the roads.

Villagers said another 7km road from Mafueang subdistrict to rural highway No 2081 has been in a state of disrepair for almost a decade.

They told the Bangkok Post Sunday that a young student was killed recently after his bike careered off the road after hitting a pothole.

The road, which is a direct route to Phutthaisong district town, is now abandoned and has grass growing in the middle. Most villagers use other indirect routes to reach their destinations.

“If the road is improved, it would prevent accidents and a loss of life,” said Sompong Pohkam, chief of Mafueang village 13.

He said locals in two subdistricts have called on authorities such as TAOs and the Phutthaisong district office to fix the road, but nothing has been done.

Krittameth Saothaisong, the president of the Ban Yang TAO, admitted his organisation did not have enough funds to fix the road.

Between June and August, the Ban Yang TAO spent 998,000 baht to put concrete on part of the road from Dontum village to its office.

However, the concrete only covered 320m of the more than 3km which needs to be fixed. The cost of fixing the entire road is expected to be about 11 million baht.

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