Pian authorizes Phra Barami 8 evictions

KALIM: Patong Mayor Pian Keesin has reluctantly agreed to demolish three squatters’ homes on Soi Phra Barami 8, the site of a proposed road-widening project that has been delayed by the numerous illegal dwellings there.

The three houses are among 61 that face eventual destruction, but are the only dwellings that the court has thus far ordered demolished. Workers will begin pulling down the three homes tomorrow.

Mayor Pian agreed to the eviction during at a meeting at Kathu District Office chaired by Phuket Provincial Chief Administrative Officer (Palad) Nivit Aroonrat, who has long sought removal of squatters from prime real estate in the hilly, seaside area.

Most of the 61 families who face eventual eviction from the area work in low-paid jobs in the Patong tourism industry; many have children who attend school there. Their electricity was cut when they were served their eviction papers in May by provincial officials, who were accompanied by some 100 police and security officers.

Two months after receiving eviction notices the squatters not only refused to move, but also staged an angry protest at Phuket Provincial Hall, where they demanded a delay in the eviction, negotiation of a fair resettlement and restoration of electric power.

The province, represented by Palad Nivit, took a hard line with the villagers after they rejected a plan to be resettled on small plots of land owned by Wat Kathu, some six kilometers away.

Saying that the time for negotiation in the case had passed, Palad Nivit ordered Mayor Pian to have the first three dwellings pulled down.

As of November 5, each of the three homeowners had run up 137,000 baht in fines for defying the court order to vacate. If unable to pay the fines, each face a one-year jail sentence, he said.

The three targeted dwellings fall most directly in the path of the intended roadway widening project. The province wants them to relocate first so that the owners of 12 other dwellings in a group of 15 targeted for immediate relocation will follow suit and will not need to be served with court orders.

K. Nivit said it was time that the province showed the encroachers that it is serious about the evictions.

“Patong Municipality must first deal with these three cases, because the villagers are still there in spite of the court order. I don’t want to have to ask the court to issue orders against the other 12. We need to do this in order to set an example and prevent more problems later on,” he said.

Mayor Pian first asked to bring in the Justice Ministry’s Legal Execution Department to advise and help negotiate a “step-by-step” solution to the problem, but in the end agreed for the three holdouts to be demolished tomorrow.

Numerous police units, including members of the local Police Border Patrol Unit, are expected to provide security during the operation.

Phuket News
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