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Phuket officials target trash-clogged drains in flood-defense plan

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: Phuket officials confirmed yesterday that Patong’s drains will be dredged after an inspection revealed they had become clogged with sediment and trash, contributing to recent flooding in the area.

The inspection of the roads and of Pak Bang Canal also revealed that many of the buildings there had been extended beyond the legal limit of three meters from the canal wall.

Officials taking part in yesterday’s inspection included Patong Mayor Chalermluck Kebsup and Navy personnel. They set out to search for ways to combat the flash flooding which has plagued Patong this month (stories here and here).

“Our short-term solution is to dredge the drains in the area. The Rural Roads Phuket Office will take care of the drains on Phang Muang Sai Kor Road, while Patong Municipality will look after the beach road and Rat-U-Thit 200 Pi Road,” said Mayor Chalermluck.

“The canal has already been dredged. Now it’s time to dredge the drains, which have been causing problems for a long time. We will start as soon as possible.”

As for the encroachment of buildings along the canal, Mayor Chalermluck admitted that she was not sure what could be done to fix the problem.

“By law, buildings are no allowed to be within three meters of the canal. However, I saw today that some are only centimeters away,” she said.

“It is clear that many of these buildings have been built illegally, in terms of the distance from the canal. I am sure they were given permission to build, but the officers who granted permission did not check back to make sure buildings were the legal distance from the canal.

“The difficulty is that the buildings are on private land with Chanote titles. In the past, Patong Municipality has ordered some owners to tear down structures too close to the canal, but this was not enforced.”

Mayor Chalermluck told the Phuket Gazette that the order to tear down sections of the buildings encroaching on the canal was issued before she took office as mayor, and that the deadline to do so had run out long before she took up her position.

“I have no idea what to do. The encroaching buildings are complete structures. How can we tear down only the parts that are too close to the canal?” she said.

“If we try to do it, we must do so without damaging the remainder of the buildings, which isn’t possible. If we damage the parts of the buildings not encroaching on the canal, we will be sued by the owners.”

Mayor Chalermluck said that she would order an investigation into those officers who had granted permission to build next to the canal, but that her main focus was now to prevent further flooding in Patong.

“I have reported these issues to the military, and we will investigate the construction permits. As long as I have the backing of the military, I believe we will be able to sort this problem out,” she said.

“It is my job to fix Patong’s problems and make the lives of Patong residents safer and happier. Flooding has been a long-standing issue for this town.

“I will take it from here and do my best. However, I cannot do it alone.”

Mayor Chalermluck plans to meet with the Marine Office today to install stakes in the ground marking the public area around the canal, Capt Petcharat Teanjan told the Gazette on behalf of the Third Area Naval Command.

“As Mayor Chalermluck said, we will fix the problem step by step, starting with the flash floods,” he said.

“Navy and Army personnel will push the Patong Municipality and other relevant departments to get the job done,” he added.

— Chutharat Plerin


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