Barami 8 squatters pull up stakes

KALIM: Squatters living on government land on Soi Phra Barami 8 have slowly begun moving out, fearing court-ordered fines and possible arrest if they continue to stay in the area.

The move comes about eight months after they received the first eviction notices.

Poonsak Naksena, Chief Administrative Assistant of Patong Municipality, told the Gazette that the squatters in the first three homes hit with court-ordered fines have vacated their homes in recent weeks.

The squatters in those homes had accrued fines of around 180,000 baht by the time the province ordered them forcibly removed if they did not vacate by November 10.

However, when the deadline came, the Municipality, fearing a riot, did not go through with the forced evictions.

Since the deadline, many residents have begun to leave the area, fearing their homes would be the next ones served with court orders, said K. Poonsak.

In addition to fear of arrest, the squatters may be tiring of living without power, which was cut off in mid-2006 in an effort to enforce the initial eviction notices served two months earlier.

After the power was cut, the villagers staged an angry protest at Provincial Hall, demanding a fair resettlement and restoration of power.

The province, represented at the time by Provincial Chief Administrative Officer (Palad) Nivit Aroonrat, took a hard line with the villagers after they rejected a provincial plan to be resettled on small plots of land owned by Wat Kathu, some six kilometers away.

Some residents have contacted the National Human Rights Commission seeking help, K. Naksena said.

Most of the squatters work low-paid jobs in the Patong tourism industry.

Some moved to the area as long as 10 years ago, when the land was privately owned. The former owner ceded the land to the government, which now wants to widen the road.

Phuket News

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