People rise early to catch the sunrise at the Pha Nok An atop the famous Phu Kradueng in Loei. (Bangkok Post file photo)
LOEI — Residents of Phu Kradueng district have called on the government to build an electric cable car system for Phu Kradueng National Park.
About 300 supporters of the cable car project, which has been discussed for about 30 years, gathered in front of Phu Kradueng district office holding banners with messages encouraging the construction of a cable car up the mountain.
Group leader Kunawut Budaduang submitted an open letter of support for the project to Phu Kradueng district chief Sritham Rajakaew, Matichon Online reported.
A look harb walks up the steep mountain to the camping ground on the summit. (Bangkok Post file photo)
The petitioners included village and tambon chiefs, vendors, students and residents of 45 villages in the district, according to Mr Kunawat.
The contentious cable car project was proposed in 1982. The scheme was devised to help with the disposal of garbage and to transport tourists who wish to visit the summit without having to endure a climb of several hours up the 1,316-metre mountain.
A number of conservationists, locals and travellers dismissed the project, saying it would wipe out local businesses such as food shops along the hiking route, as well as look harb — or porters – who help carry bags for hikers at cost around 30 baht per kilogramme.
Opponents were also concerned about environmental impacts as the cable car would bring more tourists.
The project resurfaced on Thursday, the day the park reopened to the public. It will stay open until the end of May.
The distance of the trek from the ground to the top is 5.5km. But it is another 3.5km on a level trail to get to the Phu Kradung National Park headquarters and camping ground areas.
Mr Kunawut claimed the path along the escarpment had deteriorated and was now not safe for visitors who had enjoyed the trek for more than 50 years.
He said the cable car system could help clear away the increasing amount of garbage on the mountain and be helpful for officials and travellers who get sick or sustain injuries from accidents or other incidents and need urgent medical aid.
Mr Kunawut said it would also alleviate the problem of a shortage of look harb during the peak season, which forced people to carry their own luggage.
He said the cable car system could solve many problems facing park officials and would increase the potential of Loei’s major tourist attraction.
Phu Kradueng is one of the country’s top tourist destinations, boasting 5,000 visitors a day during peak season.