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Meeting to discuss jet-ski crackdown

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Meeting to discuss jet-ski crackdown | Thaiger

PHUKET TOWN: Following the death of a 13-year-old German boy on a jet-ski last month, the local office of the Marine Department will meet with the provincial government and other government agencies tomorrow to discuss measures to improve jet-ski safety on the island. Royal Thai Navy Lt Thongchai Mabangyang of Marine Department Office 5 told the Gazette that the department would propose limiting jet-ski operators to designated areas of Patong beach, with a complete ban on their use in waters off other parts of the island. He said that the Marine Department, Patong Municipality and the Provincial Government needed better cooperation to enforce existing laws, which require that all jet-skis be registered and all operators possess a minimum Helmsman Level 2 licence, a qualification that requires two years’ documented proof of experience aboard a Thai-flagged ship. Lt Thongchai said the proposal would also include cutting down on the number of jet-skis registered through natural attrition – by extending only existing registrations and continuing to refuse registration of any new craft. Estimating the number of registered jet-skis at about 150, he acknowledged that unregistered ones should be seized, but explained that his office currently lacked the manpower or storage facilities to carry this out. In addition to restricting registrations, zoning along Patong Beach would be improved, he said, though he admitted that past attempts to encourage safe use of jet-skis in this way had failed due to lack of cooperation. “Zoning has never worked before because none of the jet-ski operators follow the rules. They care only about profit, not safety,” he said. He estimated that about half of those in the jet-ski rental industry were from Phuket, with the remainder coming from places such as Pattaya and Phang Nga. He added that most of these outsiders operate without permission. In a clear reference to the death of 13-year-old tourist Jonathan Nerlich on October 24, he said, “With enforcement of the licensing regulations, it would be impossible for a 13-year-old to rent a jet-ski because [Helmsman Level 2] licenses can be granted only to people 18 years of age or older.” Fully enforced, license restrictions would probably serve as a death blow to the jet-ski industry, by forcing tourists to sit on the back of a jet-ski while a licensed operator controlled it. “Jet-ski owners should tell their customers about the regulation or have licensed staff, but it seems they think only about profits,” said Lt Thongchai. “We [the government agencies involved] will discuss these issues and then inform the jet-ski owners of the results.” He added that previous attempts at industry self-regulation through the establishment of a Jet-Ski Operators Club had failed due to a combination of lack of compliance, intimidation and greed. The club no longer exists, he said.

 

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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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