Phi Phi locals “don’t need Bangkok’s help’

PHI PHI: At a meeting today to discuss the future of the Phi Phi Islands – following the inconclusive talks on January 21 with Deputy Prime Minister Suwat Liptapanlop – local people made it clear that they regard the participation of the Organization for Specific Areas Administration for Sustainable Tourism Promotion (OSAASTP) in future plans and actions as superfluous.

After listening to views expressed by some of the 200 locals who attended the meeting, Krabi Governor Sonthi Techanont said he would put these in a letter to be sent soon to DPM Suwat.

The Governor said he had already sent another letter to Damrong Phidet, Director-General of the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, urging him to suspend the 200-baht-per-head National Park fee levied on foreigners visiting Maya Bay, on the grounds that Phi Phi’s tourism industry is only just beginning to revive.

Phankam Kitithorakul, Chairman of the Ao Nang Tambon Administration Organization (OrBorTor), the sub-district responsible for the Phi Phi Islands, told the Gazette today that local people feel they don’t need the OSAASTP.

“We have local administration bodies including the OrBorTor, the OrBorJor (Provincial Administration Organization) and the Krabi Provincial authority. If they give us the budget we can handle all the evacuation routes, footpaths and so on.

“Governor Sonthi will send a report to DPM Suwat stating again that local people here don’t need the OSAASTP to manage [Koh Phi Phi Don].

“But I don’t know what the government’s reaction will be,” he added.

“As for the new homes for tsunami victims, we have not been able to build these – even though [international charity] World Vision was ready to do so – because of the government’s ban on construction.

“However, today, Vichuda Jantharo, a local businesswoman, donated 20 rai on Phi Phi Don, in the western foothills, which will be enough room for 166 homes,” K. Phankam said. The ban on construction applies only to the flat area between Ton Sai Bay and Loh Dalam Bay.

Local people have told the Gazette that there is a serious shortage of accommodation on the island. Some local people who lost homes in the disaster 13 months ago are still staying with relatives, resulting in overcrowding. Others sleep in their fishing boats.

Some tourists, too, are sleeping in tents because there is not enough hotel accommodation.

Phuket News
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