PHUKET: Vice Governor Somkiet Sangkhaosutthirak and several high-ranking officials visited Nui Beach in Karon yesterday to investigate complaints by locals that mafia thugs were charging people a fee to use the beach.
“We received a complaint filed through the Damrongtham Center that some people had taken control of the area and were claiming it as their own private beach,” said Vice Governor Somkiet.
“These people were allegedly charging tourists an admission fee to use the beach. Locals have also heard gunshots coming from the bay at night.”
Local residents also claimed that the thugs were protected by soldiers and government officials, he added.
However, Chalothorn Chotianan, 46, the owner of the land that provides the only access to Nui Beach, claimed that he was not aware of anyone trying to charge visitors for using the sands.
“Everything is fine, I am not mafia and the land around the beach is legally my property. I have all the documents to prove it,” he told officers.
However, further investigation of the beach area by officers revealed a number of infractions, including encroachment on beach land.
“We found some building construction encroaching on the beach area, as well as two illegal handguns and four jet-skis with no operating licenses,” said V/Gov Somkiet, adding that five of Mr Chalothorn’s workers also tested positive for drugs.
“We ordered them to immediately demolish the buildings and also seized the two handguns and four unregistered jet-skis,” he said.
The five workers who tested positive for drugs were also arrested and will be charged, he added.
“This is not over yet, we will investigate further any involvement of officials and the ownership documents for land surrounding the beach area,” V/Gov Somkiet assured.
— Kritsada Mueanhawong