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Little support for new Chalong Marina plan

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Little support for new Chalong Marina plan | Thaiger

CHALONG: Scaled-down plans aimed at allaying local opposition to the second phase of the Chalong Bay Marina found few backers during a public hearing at Muang Phuket School in Rawai on Wednesday.

The project, to be operated by the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor), is part of the provincial development strategy drawn up by the Phuket Provincial Office, which has expansion of the marine leisure industry as one of its cornerstones. Funding would mostly come from the Marine Transport Department.

The first phase of the marina is already complete, but plans for phase two have run into strong local opposition since the first-draft plans were revealed last June.

The revised plans involve construction of a “floating breakwater”, proposed in response to complaints that the originally planned breakwater would harm the environment.

The new proposal is considerably more expensive, however. Some 1,300 meters of jetty enclosing slips for 200 vessels would cost 109.2 million baht, or about 84,000 baht per meter. Floating breakwaters of similar dimensions would cost about 115,000 baht per meter.

A C-shaped, six-meter wide, 882-meter breakwater, enclosing just 44 slips, would cost 101.4 million baht. If a similarly-shaped six-meter wide, 1,148-meter breakwater to enclose a 100-boat marina were developed, the price would increase to 132 million baht.

The engineers’ report noted that the floating structures are environmentally friendly and will allow currents to pass beneath unobstructed.

Last year’s proposal, hooted out of consideration during a boisterous public hearing, was budgeted at 370 million baht with the second phase costing 300 million baht.

Now, nine months later, cost estimates for the same project have changed considerably. The three consulting companies – Golden Plan Ltd, Sea Spectrum Ltd, and STS Engineering Consultants – now say that costs for a 200-boat marina with a permanent rock breakwater will total 430.2 million baht, with the second phase work projected at 364.6 million baht.

Although still one of three choices offered on Wednesday, that project appears dead. After the meeting last year, the OrBorJor told its consultants to develop a plan that addresses environmental concerns.

STS deputy manager Suwat Buayam explained, “The purpose of today’s meeting [on Wednesday] was to see whether the 100-boat marina and new breakwater was acceptable. The new proposal was developed to minimize environmental impact on the reefs, which are protected by law and cannot be removed.”

However, the 100-berth project affords only half the marina at increased cost and a negative rate of return.

“The project will not realize a profit during the period covered by our projections,” the consultants admitted in their report.

Increased upkeep costs for the floating breakwater would be considerable, they added.

Of about 50 persons who attended Wednesday’s meeting, almost all opposed phase two in any form. “We understood that phase two was canceled,” said one speaker. “Now you’re proposing it again. What’s going on?”

Shore access was the key point of discussion. “Your breakwaters will close access to shore for longtails,” said Chalong fisherman Pisut Rakban, 40.

“Longtail boats leaving shore will have to snake through the pier pilings to get out,” added Siwakorn Chaipakdee, a member of Rawai Municipality representing Koh Lone.

Others noted that the presence of the pier will force them to detour from current routes, increasing fuel costs.

Guy-Robert Lidureau, owner of Seafarer Divers, pointed out that the project as proposed would benefit few and illustrates bureaucrats’ basic misunderstanding of Chalong Bay users.

“The harbor is used mostly by transport vessels and fishing boats – not yachts,” he said after the meeting. “This project is only for yachts.”

A final decision on the project will be deferred till after the OrBorJor elections on April 20.

 

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

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