Editorial: Jomtien’s Second Road to Nowhere

Friday, 20 May 2011 From Issue Vol. XIX No. 20 By  Phasakorn Channgam

It’s hard to imagine a more mismanaged public works project than the construction of Jomtien Second Road. Nearly 10 years after first funds were allocated, the road remains all but impassible with no one willing to step up and take responsibility for the failed pre-planning, labor problems, land purchases and schedule over-runs.

The 1.1 billion baht project has become the laughing stock of city improvement projects thanks to workers with a complete “mai pen rai” attitude toward working on “Thai Time” and officials unwilling to lose face by admitting their mistakes.

Had officials told the public the new road would take a decade to pave, perhaps no one would be upset. Surely, someone in the city administration or the project consultants or construction companies must have foreseen the hurdles they’d have to overcome in relocating power lines and water pipes.

Maybe not. Maybe the plan was to simply start digging, then worry about utilities once the first checks were cashed. Maybe that’s why the first construction workers simply walked off the job once it got too difficult.

Likewise, didn’t anyone gauge the opposition local residents and businesses might have to giving up their property to make way for the wider rode? The government has already paid out 606 million baht for land it needed, yet the job still is not done.

Those residents should have asked for more. After all, since the bulldozers started in 2005, Second Road has been renamed “Road of Seven Generations” by locals, with holes, mud, construction debris obstructing traffic and no sign anyone actually was working there.

Meanwhile, Pattaya officials, who live comfortably away from the dust, mud and potholes, have little to say other than “work is ongoing.”

Ongoing? Has Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome been to Jomtien lately?

Kunplome and other city officials were quick to descend on South Pattaya Road after last year’s decision to rip up the major artery just as high season began. The road was open again in two weeks and even Thappraya Road managed to get resurfaced within a month. Why are Jomtien residents such second-class citizens?

Kunplome may not have begun the Jomtien Second Road project but with elections next year, he may find the bungled thoroughfare may be his route out of office unless he and other local leaders stand up, take responsibility and finish the job.

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