Korean company AZ Worth is considering investing in Thailand’s proposed Patong Tunnel in Phuket. AZ Worth chairman and chief executive officer Kyung Keun Hong, accompanied by Phuket MP Raywat Areerob, met with Phuket Governor Wichai Phraisangop earlier this week at Phuket Provincial Hall to discuss the options. Kyung said his company was interested in taking on the project on a turnkey basis.

AZ Worth is also interested in investing in the light rail project that would link Phuket International Airport with other parts of the island, Kyung said. Gov Wichai told the Koreans that two Chinese firms have expressed interest in the light rail project and that all of the various proposals would be carefully considered.

Kyung said his company’s top priority was the Patong Tunnel project. Gov Wichai said that since both projects would require Cabinet approval, and that he could only receive their proposal and pass it on to the Ministry of Transport.

Kyung told the governor that he realized the need for the tunnel during his first visit to Phuket five years ago. “It is very dangerous for people to go to Patong using the current route. We have seen the results of these dangers many times. We are interested in covering this project. We are ready to invest,” he said.

AZ Worth has reviewed several road tunnels in Korea comparable in scope and has come up with a rough estimate of THB 3bn to 4bn (USD 95.7M to 127.6M) to complete the Patong Tunnel project. A THB 40M (USD 1.2M) feasibility study is now underway and a Bangkok-based consulting firm has recommended two 1.17km tunnels with elevated roads at both ends as the best possible option. Initial estimates by the consultants put the cost at about THB 2.5bn (USD 79.8M).

A small number of people oppose the project on spiritual grounds, saying it could harm Phuket’s feng shui.