PHUKET TOWN: Phuket Governor Udomsak Usawarangkura vowed today that laws covering jet-skis will be strictly enforced from now on – and that jet-skis will vanish from Phuket beaches within seven years. His dramatic announcement follows incidents in October and November in which two European tourists were killed. “We haven’t enforced the laws strictly in the past but we will from now on,” Gov Udomsak told the Gazette. “We have set ourselves a target of resolving this matter within seven years. “All jet-ski licenses will expire within seven years and we won’t issue any new ones.” It has been estimated that about 300 jet-skis are being used off Phuket’s western beaches, about half of them unregistered. K. Udomsak explained that officers will also check the mechanical condition of jet-skis to make sure they are safe. He said that the present jet-ski operators will have to change their occupation within seven years. The governors who follow him will have to make sure the policy is followed through, he added. “If it’s possible, we will allow only people who have jet-ski driving licenses to drive a jet-ski or take a passenger with them,” K. Udomsak said. “It means the driver must be responsible for the passenger’s life. We won’t let this matter be ignored any more.” Kritpetch Chaichuay, Chief of the Phuket Marine Office, told the Gazette that jet-ski operators could register their vehicles until January 31 but after that date no more licenses will be granted. “We went to Kata and Karon to open for registration last week,” he said. “The registered jet-skis will each receive a sticker from the office with a number from the jet-ski club. It means they operate under the club and they will look after each other.” The club, which fell apart several years ago, has apparently been resurrected. “We will move on to Bang Tao, Patong and Kamala respectively,” he added. “If the jet-ski owners don’t register their machines, they will be fined up to 10,000 baht.” Lt Thongchai Mabangyang, of the Royal Thai Navy Marine Department Office 5 added that operators who are not registered will also have their jet-skis seized. They will then be checked to see whether they have jet-ski driving licenses or not. “If they don’t have licenses, they are liable to a [further] fine of 10,000 baht or six months in jail, or both. “In addition, we will check [regularly] to see whether [unregistered] operators are repeating the offenses,” he said.
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