Gov asked to intervene in vendor, municipality conflict

PHUKET: A group of 30 vendors yesterday filed a complaint with the governor’s office against the Patong Municipality after being given a cancellation notice of their rental contract.

The vendors, who currently occupy the Loma Building on the Patong beachfront, asked the governor to intervene in the municipality’s plans to build a conference hall in the area where they operate their stalls.

Led by Suriya Sinsok, the group handed a letter of complaint to Phuket Provincial Chief Administrative Officer (Palad) Tamrongwat Kongkaew, who accepted the letter on behalf of Governor Chokchai Dejamornthan.

“Back in 1996, we were temporarily moved off the area for construction and renovation of food stalls and beachfront scenery. Once the construction was completed, however, we moved back to our usual area of business and continued to operate as usual for 20 years,” said Ms Suriya.

She added that in 2013, Patong Municipality informed all business owners that their rental contracts would gradually be cancelled and the area would be reclaimed by the municipality.

The current notice gives them 15 days to clear out.

Patong Mayor Chalermluck Kebsup said that the vendors had been using the public beachfront area to conduct their businesses and some of them had several months of outstanding rent payments.

“Some of the vendors have been setting up their stalls and furniture on the beach, which is in violation of the beach management rules. In order to keep things orderly, we asked them to move to the space inside the Loma Building that the municipality has provided,” said Ms Chalermluck.

She added that the municipality also made efforts to clean up the building and provide running water and electricity, so they wouldn’t have to set up their stalls outside.

“Although they agreed to stay off the public area, many of them still set up shop there. We even had Navy officials talk to them several times, but they continue to sell items outside the building. So we had no choice but to cancel their contracts and give them notice,” said Ms Chalermluck.

She added that since a budget had already been approved for renovation of the building and that the vendors do not utilize the building anyway, the municipality has decided to use the money to build a conference facility.

“We were not given any advance notice or the chance to attend a public hearing on the matter. This decision will affect the livelihood of all the vendors and staff, which totals more than a hundred people and their families,” said Ms Suriya.

The vendors are now requesting the governor make an urgent decision about whether the contract cancellation is fair and also to check if the conference hall construction is following all legal processes.

They also requested that the governor ask the municipality to reconsider the cancellation, or to designate new areas for them in the proposed building-improvement master plan.

Additionally, if the project is to go ahead, they want the municipality to provide a temporary site for them to set up their stalls while construction of the meeting hall is ongoing.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

Phuket News

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