Angry islanders in Phi Phi protest

PHI PHI: Boats to this tourist hotspot stopped running for about seven hours today after some 300 angry people assembled at the island’s pier, blocking incoming and outgoing traffic. The mob were protesting against an order to use a new pier in Krabi, three kilometers away from the old one in Krabi Town. They argued that it was too far away from the town, and complained about the higher fees at the new pier. Shop owners in Krabi Town are also angry that the new pier will take business away from them. The new pier, completed a year ago, has sat unused while boat operators continually asked for more time before making the switch. Finally, on November 15, the pier was officially declared open, and boatmen were ordered to use it, sparking protests. Pankham Kittinorrakun, President of the Ao Nang Tambon Administration Organization, which has responsibility for Phi Phi, said that there had been no violence, though at first there was a tense standoff between officials and protestors, with some 40 police keeping the peace. K. Pankham said that the protestors had started gathering at about 10:30 am, and that he and other officials, including a Provincial Vice Governor and the Police Commander of Krabi, had arrived about three hours later. “When we arrived, they didn’t want to meet us at first but after about 30 minutes their representatives allowed to us to offer an explanation,” he said. “Now they accept our points, apart from some minor issues that will be discussed later. “It seems there was a lack of communication between them and the local government. They complain that the new pier is far away and is inconvenient.” He said that officials explained that the old pier could still be used by boats of less than 20 tons gross weight for ferrying Thai people to places close to Krabi. The new pier, however, must be used by tourist ferries to and from Phi Phi. “I asked them to try the new pier. If there’s a problem they can tell us about it, and we will try to solve it,” K. Pankham said. “They have agreed to do so.” The protest is not the first over the new pier, K. Pankham admitted. A couple of days earlier, boat operators held a vociferous meeting at the old pier in Krabi Town. “At that time officials met with their representatives and explained to them [why they should use the new pier]. But when they returned to Phi Phi to explain it to people there, the people still did not understand, so that’s why there was another protest at the island,” he said. The mob finally dispersed at around 5 pm.

Phuket News
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