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Phuket making waves as jet-skis get legal

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket making waves as jet-skis get legal | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: The issue of jet-ski insurance, a topic that never seems to be off the back-burner, resurfaced earlier this month at the Honorary Consuls’ regular four-monthly meeting.

British Honorary Consul Martin Carpenter asked the Marine Department chief if he could provide clear information warning tourists of the potential quagmire they face should they get into problems while renting a jet-ski.

As a result of that request, Phuripat Theerakulpisut, Director of the local Marine Department office, promulgated copies of the current insurance policies held by jet-ski renters. (Click here to see a jet-ski rental agreement and insurance policy, and read a summary of them at the bottom of this report.)

There are now two companies currently selling jet-ski rental insurance polices to jet-ski operators: The Thai United Insurance Co Ltd (TUI), and Sri Ayudhya General Insurance Public Co Ltd (SAGI).

This was not always the case. Reported in the Phuket Gazette newspaper in April 2011, was the near collapse, a mere two years after its launch, of the only jet-ski policy brokered by Ayudhya Insurance PCL. The threatened collapse was caused by the constant high claims submitted by jet-ski operators for damage by tourists to their rented machines.

The history of jet-skis in Phuket dates back to the last century and includes a number of tourist deaths and serious injuries, including injuries sustained by tourists in recurring altercations with rental operators.

In February 1998, it was reported there were about 250 machines operating here, of which only 22 were registered.

In March 2000, routinely faced with a barrage of complaints, the Provincial Office implemented a “jet-ski management program” covering the five beaches of Kata, Karon, Patong, Kamala and Bangtao. The following month Provincial officers and officials from across the island gathered and decided that tough action against the jet-ski operators was the way forward.

At that time, Marine officers examined and registered 219 jet-skis. That figure was capped by the Phuket Provincial Office for seven years, with no more rental jet skis to be stationed on the island until March 2004.

Even then, laws were in place to regulate jet-skis. The Public Health and Safety Act 1992 barred jet-ski operators from several practices, such as riding in swimming zones and using jet-skis for commercial purposes, which might be construed to include the rental business. The Public Health and Safety Act also enforces the mandatory wearing of life-vests.

The provision against using jet-skis for commercial purposes has always been ignored.

An even older and more specific act is the 1913 Navigation act. This requires all vessels, including jet-skis, to be registered with the Harbor Department. Furthermore, a person driving a jet-ski must hold at least a Helmsman Level 2 license, a qualification that requires two years’ documented proof of experience aboard a Thai-flagged ship, which would effectively preclude tourists from ever riding a jet ski.

The license provision in the Navigation Act has, likewise, always been ignored.

By July of last year, with complaints from tourists increasing and foreign officials becoming more vocal about jet-ski scams, not to mention a “turf war” threatening to erupt on Bang Tao Beach in January this year, Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha stepped in to enforce provincial policy on the operators.

He instigated zoning of six beaches where jet-ski operators ply their trade: Kata, Karon, Patong, Kamala, Bang Tao and a new addition at Koh Naka. The zones separated swimmers from jet-skis and were marked with buoys placed by the local authorities.

Within the last few years more jet-skis have started to appear on the beaches. A recent investigation counted an additional 67 of them.

The current number of registered jet-skis on Patong Beach is 170; Kamala, 26; Kata-Karon, 38; Bang Tao, 40; and Koh Naka, 12.

The number of unregistered jet-skis doing business at these beaches is not publicly known.

To control the growth of the hazardous machines, the Marine Department says it will not register more than the 286 already in operation. The department also insists, publicly, that those operators must follow the regulations or risk losing their franchise.

In summary, to continue his business, an operator must in theory ensure that his jet-ski is covered by adequate insurance and registered with the Marine Department.

Once registered, those jet-skis must display an orange sticker identifying its number, the owner and its working location.

In the case of a jet-ski damaged beyond repair, the jet-ski owner(s) must apply to have the unserviceable machine struck from the register. Only after that can they apply to register and operate a replacement machine. This will be granted at the discretion of the Marine Department, if approved by the local jet-ski “club”, on which all operators must be a member.

Foreigners are not allowed to operate a jet-ski rental business and are this ineligible to join a “club”.

Two weeks ago, Mr Phuripat confirmed that 286 jet-skis were the limit and that no more can be registered.

“Actually 281 jet-skis have been registered; five were not presented to us for registration. If the owners attempt to rent them out, they will be caught,” he asserted.

“Jet-skis can still be registered with the Marine Department, but not for renting to the public. If caught, they risk a fine of up to 10,000 baht,” he added.

Speaking specifically about the Bang Tao jet-ski operators, Mr Phuripat said that the local dispute between local operators and a new foreign-owned concern had been resolved and the illegal foreign-owned jet skis were no longer operating.

‘The way things are at the moment is that the current agreement between the Provincial Office and the jet-ski operators is for two years and will end next July,” said Mr Phuripat.

“Nearer the time we will have meeting with the Provincial Office to see the results. If the project is not successful, it can be canceled. However, all jet-ski operators have agreed to follow the regulations.”

Looking to the future, Mr Phuripat said it depended on the Phuket Governor to continue the measures and to improve them. Certainly there will be no more jet-skis without discussions with the Provincial Office.

Insurance policy details

Jet skis are required by the Marine Department to have “first class” insurance cover. Currently many rental operators are going for two policies. One to cover the mandatory requirement to insure riders and passengers, and a second covering damage to property while also providing a “reserve” should medical bills out-strip the limit of the first policy.

The TUI policy covers the jet-ski driver and one passenger for personal injury or death, and limited medical costs. Each contract will not pay more than 300,000 baht per jet-ski annually.

Death or permanent disability of rider or passenger: 100,000 baht.

Medical costs of rider or passenger: up to 15,000 baht per person.

SAGI’s insurance policy covers the same range of risks at a lower payout, but also includes third party liability and damage, including damage to the jet-ski. The contract will not pay more than a total of 200,000 baht per policy.< — Atchaa Khamlo

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Tourism

Phuket airport ready for tourists after finishing Covid screening labs

The Thaiger &amp; The Nation

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Phuket airport ready for tourists after finishing Covid screening labs | The Thaiger

Phuket Airport is officially ready for tourists as authorities say they have finished installing Covid screening labs in an effort to welcome international travellers. The 5T Model for Covid-19 is being used at the airport with the goal of screening large groups of people in a quick and efficient manner. The Phuket health chief says the 5T’s stand for Target, Testing, Treating, Trusting and Tracing.

Phuket has one large airport at the north end of the island but is separated into two separate terminals – a domestic terminal (the original airport terminal), and a new international terminal opened in 2016.

The target category refers to the target groups of tourists while the tracing stands for software that will be used to monitor their movements. The testing category refers to Covid tests that will be implemented to travellers upon arrival along with the treatment and trust categories signifying the readiness of resources for medical treatment and confident communications between all parties respectively.

The Covid-19 lab container module has been set up at Phuket airport’s Terminal X (the terminal opened for charter flights opened in 2014) and will be tested tomorrow with its operation to start on September 30. As large groups of tourists could arrive (later in the year, the lab is reportedly capable of testing 96 people at a time with test results becoming available in 6 hours. What the airport would do withe tested passengers whilst waiting for 6 hours, has not been detailed at this stage.

Such a readiness plan to welcome foreign tourists originally singled out Phuket due to its popularity with travellers, and as a so-called guinea pig model to test in a controlled environment (Phuket is an island joined to the Thai mainland by a single 300 metre road bridge). Once dubbed the Phuket Model, authorities have proposed to rename the plan to “Special Tourist Visa” due to the confusion and opposition it reportedly caused. The scheme is reportedly now being proposed for all areas of Thailand but only allowing foreigners from specific countries.

SOURCE: Pattaya Mail

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Politics

Phuket’s Sri Panwa Resort’s land title deed to be investigated for legality by DSI

The Thaiger &amp; The Nation

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Phuket&#8217;s Sri Panwa Resort&#8217;s land title deed to be investigated for legality by DSI | The Thaiger

Back in the news again. Phuket’s Sri Panwa Resort’s land title deed is now to be investigated by the Department of Special Investigation after a petition was filed to determine whether the deed was procured legally. Veera Somkwamkid, the secretary-general of the People’s Network Against Corruption, filed the petition along with 167 pages of documents pertaining to his accusations that Thawatchai Anukun, a land fraud suspect, had unlawfully issued land title deeds to plots of land in Phuket before he mysteriously died in a detention room while in DSI custody in 2016.

He was allegedly being investigated for falsifying land deeds between the years of 1998 and 2001. Veera claims before the title deed was issued on the plot, the land was part of a forest known by locals as Pa Kae.

“Back then, 10 families that had occupied the plots for about 40 years had title deed requests rejected. The reason given was the land was part of a forest reserve used by the navy.”

However, Watchara Buathong, Phuket’s current land official, says the Sri Panwa resort had legally acquired its 56-rai, none of which was ever state land. Local resident Khwanjai Khumban, backed this claim, saying her father and cousins had sold most of the land to the resort, and she could produce documents to account for at least 12 rai of the disputed area.

Phuket's Sri Panwa Resort's land title deed to be investigated for legality by DSI | News by The Thaiger

Meanwhile, the Social Security Office, is also under fireas it is being asked to explain why it invested in the hotel’s trust fund. The department, which is under Thailand’s Ministry of Labour, in which its minister says he doesn’t know if the property has been legally built and points to the responsibility to the DSI to investigate. This was echoed by at least one opposition MP and anti-corruption activists.

The hotel, situated on Cape Panwa, in Phuket’s Muang district, has been under recent scrutiny due to its owner, Vorasit Issara, accusing Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, a co-leader of the anti-government United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration group, of offending the monarchy at last weekend’s protest at Sanam Luang.

Vorasit posted on Instagram that Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul should be jailed, further falsely claiming that she is not Thai when, in fact, Panusaya was found to have been born in Nonthaburi and is a Thai citizen.

“This bullshit has got to stop. She is not Thai. Who is she working for? This one needs to be in prison”.

Such a statement has received wide backlash from netizens with some taking to Trip Advisor and other websites to post bad reviews of the resort, prompting it to suspend advertising on such sites.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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Phuket

Female prisoner on the run after escaping from Phuket Hospital

The Thaiger

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Female prisoner on the run after escaping from Phuket Hospital | The Thaiger

A female prisoner is on the run after escaping from Vachira Hospital in Phuket during a doctor’s appointment. 58 year old Siri Phodam allegedly escaped after asking her prison escort officer to use the toilet. But she took a long time to come back, and was found to have escaped. CCTV cameras caught her dressed in a blue hospital patient shirt and a sarong leaving the hospital quickly. A Phuket prison officer says the woman is 158 centimetres tall and has dark skin.

“Some of our own officers are searching for her, and we have also sent the prisoner’s description to all Phuket police stations. However, at this stage we have not found any clues.

Female prisoner on the run after escaping from Phuket Hospital | News by The Thaiger

“If anyone finds a person matching the prisoner’s appearance, please inform us by calling 076 212 104.”

Siri was imprisoned after being charged with posessing illegal drugs and lived in Moo 2, Rawai.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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