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Dredging clears path for cleaner Phuket Bang Tao Canal water

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Dredging clears path for cleaner Phuket Bang Tao Canal water | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Bang Tao Canal water, which was blamed for a rash of health problems for Phuket tourists and boatmen, is now flowing more freely with 80 per cent of the canal-dredging process complete.

Akkarawat Hirunphun, director of the Phuket-based Regional Environmental Office 15, said tests conducted by his officers in April confirmed that the water in the canal at multiple locations had average Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) readings well over the legal standard (story here).

Now, however, the water has cleared up to some extent, Cherngtalay OrBorTor President Ma-ann Samran said at a meeting about the issue yesterday.

“When the process is 100 per cent complete, the water will be even more clear, which will allow us to know exactly which buildings are polluting the water based on their discharge,” Mr Ma-ann said.

The pollution of the water has been blamed on the many hotels, restaurants, bars, car wash businesses and houses along a two kilometers stretch of the canal before it releases water out onto Bang Tao Beach.

“Business owners, local residents and local government officers need to know the penalty [for releasing untreated wastewater] under the Environment Act Sections 80 and 82,” Phuket Vice Governor Somkiet said at the meeting today.

He announced that another meeting would be held to teach locals the damaging effects of releasing untreated waste water into the canal.

“If local government officers enforce the environmental laws, the residents will see that we are serious about solving this problem,” V/Gov Somkiet said. “I’m pretty sure they will not pollute if law enforcement is strict.”

The date for the next meeting has yet to be set.

— Saran Mitrarat

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket wants Bangkok arrivals to skip quarantine to help tourism revenue

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Phuket wants Bangkok arrivals to skip quarantine to help tourism revenue | The Thaiger

Phuket’s tourism representatives are calling for an end to the mandatory quarantine levied at tourists arriving to the province from Bangkok. The tourism delegation have also told Phuket’s provincial government to be prepared to start receiving international tourists starting in October.

Such a plan includes a requirement for all international travellers to Thailand to have the Covid-19 vaccine. By that time, it is expected that Phuket will have 70% of its population vaccinated, with the timeline possibly being sped up by the province planning to buy the vaccines with its own funds. Such a move would bypass the national government’s timeline with the hopes of innoculating registered residents quicker. Governor Narong says such quarantine measures in place currently are preventing the province from profitting off domestic tourism.

“Phuket has been hit hard by the 2nd epidemic. Thai tourists do not come because they do not want to quarantine and follow the difficult steps to enter the province, not to mention there are no foreign tourists at this time.”

In a meeting, the PTA President Bhummikitti, said the Covid-19 vaccine was “the last ticket and the last hope” for Phuket tourism, “because Phuket tourism has no way out at this time.”

“Thai people are unable to travel due to the second outbreak, and foreign tourists are not to be mentioned at all. Vaccines are the hope of the Phuket tourism sector.”

“The private sector wants to get clarity from the government whether we can follow this plan or not, because if it is left like this – open, close, lockdown and so on, as in the past – local businesses are all dead. And we would like to have clarity soon in order to be able to market [tourists coming to Phuket] at least 2 to 3 months [before October].”

Bhummikitti pointed out that the government had promised to work with local industry on all matters related to Covid-19 and keeping the local economy alive. He said that the move would “allow tourism and the Phuket economy to be able to walk once more from having fewer Thai tourists.”

Governor Narong said tracking systems will be in place when tourists do come back to the province.

“In order to ensure tourists that Phuket citizens as well as incoming tourists are safe from the Covid-19 virus, there will be a tracking system, and a fund established to be used as a remedy [sic] to help those affected if there is an infection from incoming tourists.”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Patong, Phuket Town, Chalong to fund residents’ vaccination

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Patong, Phuket Town, Chalong to fund residents’ vaccination | The Thaiger

Patong and Phuket Town are planning to fund registered residents’ Covid-19 vaccines, Thai and foreign, with the hope to speed up the inoculation process without waiting for the national government. The mayors of both cities say they have already allocated the funds to move forward with purchasing the vaccines after the government approves which ones may be used.

Like any other municipality in Thailand, the Covid-19 vaccine must be acquired from the Ministry of Public Health. A spokesperson says their office had yet to receive the news on how many doses of the vaccine Phuket could receive or in which order to vaccinate people.

“I don’t want to wait in the queue to get the vaccine budget. Chalong people deserve to receive vaccines. They do not need to pay.”

Chalong officials have confirmed that the Covid vaccines will be freely available to all people registered as living in Chalong Subdistrict, regardless whether the resident is Thai or foreign.

“There are about 20,000 to 30,000 people in Chalong. This includes everyone: Thais, migrant workers and other foreigners registered as living in Chalong, such as retirees and foreigners staying here for other reasons. They will all receive the vaccine.”

Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana has also confirmed to The Phuket News that Phuket City Municipality will also administer free vaccines to the over 79,000 people living in Phuket Town. But he says only people who were registered as living in the city limits at the end of December would be eligible to receive the free vaccines. Chalermluck Kebsup, Mayor of Patong, is also following suit by offering free vaccines to registered residents.

“We deserve to get the vaccine quickly because Phuket is a tourism province, our people depend on tourism.”

It has been 26 days since Phuket had any positive cases of Covid-19, but Chalermluck says a vaccine will curb worries of Covid spreading.

“The vaccine is our hope in stopping this fear. If local residents receive the vaccine as quickly as possible, I think people will be more confident in receiving domestic tourists. Then businesses can run.”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Transport

Phuket police confirm speed limit of bypass road after locals complain

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Phuket police confirm speed limit of bypass road after locals complain | The Thaiger

Phuket police are confirming the island’s bypass road speed limit as 50 kilometres per hour. That is, despite years of back and forth between motorists and the law. The latest announcement comes after locals posted online copies of their speeding tickets, which showed the confirmed limit. The stretch of road, almost the only stretch of road where you could get a car up to 100 kph, has long been a speedway for cars, trucks and vans.

The reason they are complaining is due to the fact that they say they were under the impression that speeding tickets would only be given to those caught exceeding 100 kilometres per hour along the bypass. They say police have assured for years that this would be the case.

Phuket City Traffic Police Deputy Chief Rungrit Rattanaphakdee says that normally motorists are allowed to drive up to 80 kilometres per hour on municipality roads but the bypass road’s speed limit is 50 kilometres per hour.

“Although drivers of private cars and motorbikes can drive not over 80 kilometres per hour on municipality roads in accordance with the Road Traffic Act B.E. 2522, all drivers must follow the 50 kilometres per hour signs installed along the bypass road.”

But his interpretation of the law contradicts a statement in 2015 by former Phuket Highways Office Chief Samak Liedwonghat and Teerawat Liamsakun, who was Phuket City Police Chief at the time. Samak said back then, that the signs with a white background and red circle are advisory only. In other words, not mandatory. Teerawat also concurred with Samak, in 2015, by saying that the signs were advisory only but warned that drivers may have an accident if they don’t comply with the advisory speed limit on the signs.

“Actually, speed is limited by law on this road [the bypass road] to 80 kilometres per hour in tessabaan (municipal) areas and 90 kilometres per hour in other parts. Our speed cameras are set to detect vehicles going faster than 100. Anyone caught going faster than that risks receiving a speeding ticket in the mail.”

Now, Rungrit says the speed limit is mandatory but motorists would not be issued tickets by the speed cameras unless motorists’ speeds were higher than 100 kilometres per hour.

Locals say they are still confused as they say Rungrit didn’t respond as to why the motorists were being ticketed when travelling under 100 kilometres per hour as he maintains that fines are only given to those going over 100 kilometres per hour. The photos of the tickets showed most of those ticketed to be travelling at speeds of 90-99 kilometres per hour, which directly contradicts Rungrit’s new interpretation of the law.

“….So far we have had tickets issued only to the drivers who drove faster than 100 kilometres per hour.”

“The signs are there to remind drivers to drive carefully under the speed limit, as normally drivers drive very fast on the road, leading to accidents.”

“We are trying to use technology to charge drivers’ behaviour, so we use speed cameras and have tickets sent to their homes. As you can see, we never set up any checkpoint along the bypass road, except during the long holidays.”

To be clear, Rungrit says the bypass road speed limit is 50 kilometres per hour, but you may be ticketed if your speed exceeds 100 kilometres per hour. That is, despite locals receiving tickets for going 90-99 kilometres per hour.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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