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Chalong Bay Marina expansion to be scaled back



Chalong Bay Marina expansion to be scaled back | Thaiger

PHUKET CITY: The second phase of the Chalong Bay Marina project is now being redrawn, following complaints from local fishermen to the National Human Rights Committee that its construction could harm the local environment and destroy their livelihoods.

Wasan Panich, a member of the National Human Rights Commission, on January 7 chaired an ad-hoc committee meeting at the Phuket Merlin Hotel to discuss concerns expressed by local fisherman with representatives of the various government agencies involved in the project’s controversial second phase.

The Chalong Bay Marina is a Marine Department project supported by Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor) as a way of improving the island’s marine-tourism infrastructure.

It is divided into two phases. The first phase, now nearing completion at a cost of 70 million baht, comprises a single main pier with floating dock berths for 44 yachts.

The second-phase, already budgeted at 300-million-baht, would have increased the size of the main pier and raised the number of berths to 210.

Also to be built on the expanded main pier under phase 2 would have been a multipurpose building serving as a one-stop service center for tourists arriving by yacht. Services offered there were to include a Customs and Immigration checkpoint and safety center.

Three alternative plans for the phase-2 expansion were drawn up by the Marine Department’s consultants last year, but all were criticized by local residents in June when the plans were put

before a public hearing at Muang Phuket Municipal School.

Opponents claimed the expansion would serve the needs of rich investors and yacht owners, but offer little to local residents.

Dredging of the the seabed to accommodate large yachts and the construction of breakwaters would damage the marine environment in Chalong Bay, they argued.

At the meeting on January 7, Marine Department engineer Somchai Somanaskhajornkul admitted to the ad-hoc panel that with so much opposition, the project could not go forward in its present form.

To make the project more palatable to local residents, the Marine Department and OrBorJor have discussed reducing the expansion to just 100 berths and changing the fixed breakwaters to floating ones, he said.

New plans based on these changes have already been drawn up, he added.

The Marine Department is now waiting for the OrBorJor to organize another round of hearings and will wait for the public response before taking any further action on phase 2.

The future of the project’s second phase now rests with the OrBorJor, which has to issue an order allowing construction to proceed, he pointed out.

The OrBorJor wants the project to support tourism growth, but the project can only move forward with a broad agreement from all the stakeholders, he said.

K. Somchai added that the marina is not meant to compete with private-sector port facilities, many of which are being developed in tandem with real-estate ventures. [See page 1.]

The Chalong Bay Marina is intended to serve mariners visiting Phuket by yacht, not people who own property here and want to keep a yacht here long term. For this reason, the facilities differ greatly, he said.

Commissioner Wasan said the committee is still collecting information about the revised plans for the second phase of the project and has yet to receive the associated environmental-impact report. He expressed concern about fixed breakwaters and said that their construction offshore could affect the shoreline in many ways.

Once all the information is gathered, the panel will produce a summary report for all related agencies to review, he said.

“We will have to reconsider how to do the project without the problems mentioned and in a way that meets the approval of the local people whose lives will be affected,” he said.


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