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Cherng Talay Tesco saga continues

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: As construction of the controversial Tesco-Lotus Express store in Cherng Talay reaches its final stage, the legality of an alleged ban on its construction remains unclear and local authorities admit they are unsure which authority is responsible for approving – or halting – the store’s construction.

On October 31, Samarn Krohlek and Apisit Ngarnpresertkit, leaders of a local protest against the store, together with five other Cherng Talay residents took their plight to Phuket Governor Niran Kalayanamit. The Governor admitted to the group that he did not clearly understand the background behind the issues involved n the store’s construction.

K. Samarn and K. Apisit urged Gov Niran to quickly issue an order to halt construction of the store, which was initially called “Tesco-Lotus Express Cherng Talay” but now sports a sign calling itself “Laguna Tesco Lotus Market Cherng Talay”.

They explained to the governor that Cherng Talay residents had staged a protest outside the offices of Cherng Talay Municipality, which issued the building permit.

Following that protest, Cherng Talay Municipality apparently ordered a halt to the construction but work at the site continued.

Gov Niran said, “I have heard about this problem in Cherng Talay and that there is some confusion over the jurisdictional boundaries of the two local authorities on whose borders the project sits,” he said.

The two bodies in question are Cherng Talay Municipality and the Cherng Talay Tambon Administration Organization, or OrBorTor Cherng Talay.

“I understand it is still not clear which of the two administrations is responsible for the site where the store is being built. I have yet to see the files, but I heard that on October 29 a committee was formed to investigate this case. I think we have to wait for the committee’s findings,” the Governor told the protesters.

K. Samarn said, “We have complained about the illegal construction since September, but now Tesco-Lotus is advertising for new employees to work at the Laguna Tesco Lotus Market, which already has a large sign up – and the construction is still going on. It is not a Tesco-Lotus Express at all.”

Tesco-Lotus Express stores are usually about the same size as 7-Eleven stores. However, the new Laguna Tesco Lotus Supermarket is much larger..

“The fact is that we do not need a Tesco-Lotus in Cherng Talay. The construction has gone on without a public hearing. I worry about why it was very easy to get a building permit but takes so long to stop construction when local people say that it must stop,” K. Samarn said,

K. Apisit said, “We trust that the Governor will keep a eye on this problem. We don’t know what else to do. This will force small shops in the area to close, which will affect about 50% of the people in Cherng Talay – it will change their way of life. Today we came to ask the governor to hurry and stop the construction.”

K. Niran reiterated that any decision to order a halt would have to wait until the results of the investigation committee’s findings are released and a review of applicable commerce law and other statutes.

After the meeting K. Apisit said, “We have complained to the Cherng Talay OrBorTor, Cherng Talay Municipality, Thalang District Office and to the Phuket Provincial Office – everything to stop Tesco-Lotus from opening.”

K. Samarn said he was considering filing a case with the Administrative Court.

A Tesco-Lotus spokesperson in Bangkok to whom the Gazette was referred to declined to comment.

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 mask violators in Phuket forced to exercise

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Pushups instead of a 6,000 baht fine at a Phuket checkpoint yesterday. (via video screenshot)

For those who have more pounds on their body than pounds in their pocket, exercise punishment seen in Phuket yesterday for mask violators may or may not be welcome. Officials have walked back the strict 6,000 baht punishment for the first warning against someone not wearing a mask and were spotted forcing those who have gone out without a mask to do exercise on the street.

The people forced to exercise were at a Covid-19 checkpoint in the Rawai subdistrict, where the Chalong Police along with local medical workers were checking people yesterday. The checkpoint was set up in an effort to push one hundred per cent mask compliance to stop the spread of Covid-19 on Phuket.

Not only were they checking everyone who passed by to make sure they had their masks, but also to correct those who were wearing their masks improperly. We’ve all seen the people who seem to think that a mask on their chin or underneath their nose is somehow just as effective as a properly worn mask, or at least that they can get away with “wearing a mask” while limiting their personal inconvenience.

Officials were quick to point out that the overwhelming majority of people passing through the checkpoint, both foreigners and Thai, did have their masks with them and were wearing them properly. But they did catch more than 10 people not wearing their face mask or not using them correctly.

Authorities decided to let them off with a first soft warning by moving bodies instead of moving baht. Police made violators do exercise right there on the street in hopes of shaming them into making better decisions next time. All violators did have their names and details taken down with a promise that if they were caught again proper traditional fines would be handed down.

No word yet on any plans to make this punishment into a Tik-Tok Channel.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

 

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Tourism

Thai public health and tourism ministers on Phuket to push the July 1 Sandbox reopening

Tim Newton

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Bangkok has sent a couple of ministerial heavyweights to Phuket today to keep pushing the July 1 ‘Sandbox’ bandwagon, insisting that Phuket will open to fully vaccinated tourists from July 1.

The Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul ,along with the Sports and Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, are doing the island PR tour today delivering a message from the PM Prayut Chan-o-cha who is confirming that Phuket will open to fully vaccinated international tourists from the start of July.

Phuket has continued to rack up between 10-20 new Covid infections each day over the past week and still has hundreds of people listed as ‘active cases’. As of today 22% of the island has been vaccinated.

The original Phuket Sandbox model was intended to be quarantine-free. That issue was not made clear during today’s PR trip from the 2 ministers. The full details of how Phuket will open to international tourists, how those tourists might get to Phuket, or where they will visit on an island with its tourist infrastructure shutdown, have not been provided at this stage. It has also not been discussed how long the international tourists will have to remain on Phuket before travelling to other parts of the country.

The Phuket Governor welcomed the prime ministerial delegation to Provincial Hall at lunchtime saying that Phuket would progress with its plans to launch the Phuket Sandbox from July 1.

“All stakeholders who are frontline warriors working to solve the problem of the Covid epidemic situation have earned the goodwill and concern from Prayut Chan-o-cha, who also believes that Phuket is ready to prepare for the opening of the Phuket Tourism Sandbox on July 1 for sure.”

Phuket Province generated several hundreds of billions of baht of income for the country per year and Thailand relies heavily on tourism income. Indeed, second to Bangkok, Phuket was the government’s golden goose delivering decades of high tourism receipt returns.

Speaking to The Phuket News, Anutin said…

“The government is ready to act as soon as possible. This has been clearly proved, such as by the large number of vaccine doses that Phuket has been allocated to vaccinate the people in the area to cover all groups and be as safe as possible as the ‘Phuket Model’.

“When the economy is good, everyone gets better, so use patience to believe that good things will follow”.

Another 100,000 Sinovac vaccines arrived on the island to be formerly handed over today by Minister Anutin. An additional 100,000 doses will arrive on Tuesday.

AstraZeneca vaccines are also due to arrive from June, daily reserved for people over 60 years old or people who have other health conditions which require the AZ vaccine instead of the Chinese manufactured Sinovac.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Phuket

Phuket may ditch light rail and build smart bus system instead

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: A Smart bus plan may replace Phuket light rail plans. (via MRTA)

A proposal to drop the light rail planned for Phuket and replace it with a smart bus system is under an in-depth review as ordered by Phuket Transport Minister. Advocates for the smart bus – automated driverless buses on city streets – say that the project would bring mass transportation to Phuket Island for 15.2 billion baht cheaper than a light rail would.

The analysis was ordered Thursday in a phone meeting to check progress on regional transport projects. The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand has suggested changing the plan in Phuket from light rail to a smart bus system. The MRTA had been dead set on the light rail system but have now launched preliminary research on a driverless bus system.

HERE’S a previous story with more details about how the bus system would work, instead of a light rail.

But critics say the planned light rail system was almost unworkable with its routing not going through the main population centres and its complete avoidance of the tourist areas, was doomed from the start. The 5 years it was expected for construction would have caused major traffic snarls on the main island arteries and then reduced traffic flow on those arteries for the life of the light rail project.

Initial investigations show that an automated rapid transit bus system would shave about 9 months off the construction time and 15.289 billion baht from the budget. Cost-saving measures like precast concrete and launching gantries will further reduce construction expenses.

As a result, the bus system could be run with lower passenger fares than a light rail train would. The project was considering 3 bus fares… local in Phuket Town, local outside of Phuket Town, and transport between towns around the island.

The MRTA and the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning have coordinated with the Expressway Authority in Thailand to consider the smart bus plan and its effect on traffic. Unfortunately, the group is worried that building the smart bus system plan to be ready by 2026 while working on the Patong tunnel project scheduled to open in 2028 would create long-term detrimental traffic jams. They’re considering a postponement to a 2030 launch (the Patong tunnel project has been in ‘planning’ mode for 20 years and will never happen).

The Transportation Minister has requested proposals for 2 different timelines to be delivered within the next 2 weeks, and plans to have the MRTA and EXAT come to Phuket for public hearings after Covid-19.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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