By The Nation
It is likely that the redesign will see the road improved only in critical sections, while the rest is left with a compacted dirt surface to support local ecological systems.
Sasin Chalermlarp, chairman of Seub Nakhasathien Foundation and the park’s advisory committee member who visited the area last week, said the National Parks Department’s executives had agreed to adjust the original design to facilitate concerns raised by conservation groups.
The 21-kilometre road section from the park’s popular Ban Krang bird camp to the iconic Phanoen Thung was once paved with asphalt for 18km of its length and the rest being dirt compacted, but its asphalt surface deteriorated over the years, resulting in the roadway becoming almost inaccessible.
Incidents were reported from time to time, prompting the park’s executives to invest in a workforce to keep the road accessible, thus compromising the park’s protection forces.
Kaeng Krachan National Park chief Mana Phermpool, in consultation with the park’s advisory committee, decided to proceed with the road’s improvement.
Some conservation groups, however, viewed that the overall planned improvement would do more harm than good to the park’s fragile ecosystems, as the road runs deep into the heart of the park and more visitors would be easily able to access it as a result of the improvements.
The National Parks Department late last year therefore decided to hold a consultation with parties opposed to the original plans.
As a result, agreement was reached that only some critical parts of the road would be improved, in order to ensure there was little impact on the park’s ecosystems.
Sasin was told by Mana that after the park had consulted with the department’s engineering division, he and his executives agreed that it would be viable to improve only some critical parts, including the steep slopes.
The remainder of the road would have a compacted dirt surface to ensure facilitation of the area’s ecosytems and wildlife.
“From what I was told, they had listened to other voices,” said Sasin, adding that the new design may be the best way out.
Mana said on Monday that in principle, engineers held the view that the whole road section should be improved, but he as the park chief needed to manage conflicting issues and opposition in regard to the plans.
No less critical is contract management, so as to ensure the work is efficient while the budget is spent appropriately, he added.
The park’s chief said he was as yet unable to confirm when the improvement project would resume, as it depended on the final form of the new design.
However, he hopes it can go ahead with the minimum delay and the tourism burden that he and his officers are shouldering can be relieved soon, he said.