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Racha Yai residents protest new resort development

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Racha Yai residents protest new resort development | Thaiger

PHUKET CITY: More than 100 villagers from Koh Racha Yai gathered outside Phuket Provincial Hall on Tuesday to protest a new resort development they claim is disrupting their way of life and destroying the environment.

The protesters, led by Chakrit Chandee of the Koh Racha Environmental Conservation and Protection Association, handed a letter to Phuket Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop outlining their complaints.

The letter made three allegations against the Raya Buri Group, the company constructing the new resort:

That the company had blocked an important thoroughfare on the island, preventing villagers from going about their business;

That two barges carrying building materials for the project damaged a coral reef in Siam Bay, on the island’s northeast coastline;

That the company started construction of the resort without government approval.

The protesters came from villages 3 ,4 and 5 of Koh Racha Yai, which lies about 20 kilometers south of Phuket’s main island.

Mr Sakrit said that Raya Buri Group’s blocking of a 300-400 meter path leading from Siam Bay into the island was causing problems for residents.

“Villagers and business operators on the island are having problems because we are not allowed to walk down an old public way, which is now possessed by an investor named Raya Buri Group,” he said.

Mr Sakrit said the route was closed down ‘temporarily’ four or five months ago, but that Raya Buri had recently erected a ‘no entry’ sign indicating the route was now closed to the public.

“They said the path belonged to them and it was no longer a public way, so no people or vehicles would be allowed to use it,” he said.

“Everybody takes advantage of this route. Villagers transport their produce and carry their longtail boats to the beach down it; and fishermen who anchor their boats in the bay use the path to walk inland,” he explained.

“During the East monsoon season, Siam Bay is the best place to moor a boat,” he added.

Mr Sakrit said damage of a coral reef in the bay was another grievance among island residents.

For our previous report on this incident, click here.

“Despite an agreement between the investors and Phuket Provincial Office that the only beach to be used for offloading construction materials is at Theu Bay, they still use Siam Bay,” he said.

Damage to the reef would damage the local dive industry, Mr Sakrit claimed.

There are four dive shops on Racha Yai. Together with dive shops on Phuket’s main island, Racha Yai attracts more than 200 divers daily during the high season.

Garry Halpin, a representative of the Racha Yai dive operators, said he was concerned because damaged coral takes a long time to grow back.

“We need to meet and find the best way to live peacefully together.”

The construction company did not have permission to build yet still managed to complete 60% of construction, Mr Sakrit claimed.

“I think the main problem is communication,” he said.”We don’t want to be an enemy of the Raya Buri Group, we just want to have a discussion and agree on how we can live together in peace,” he said.

After receiving the letter from the protesters, Gov Wichai promised to visit the island with officials from Bangkok and senior Phuket police officers to survey the scene.

— Pimwara Choksakulpan

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket begs Kolour attendees to come for Covid-19 testing

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Phuket begs Kolour attendees to come for Covid-19 testing | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Kolour in the park was more pleasant in 2018 before Covid-19.

Health officials in Phuket put out a public statement this week compelling all foreigners who attended clubs and Kolour events to report for Covid-19 testing. As many might expect, the response has been lacklustre at best. Spreading the message around the foreigner and expat community in Phuket, the message is aimed at the multitudes of people, mostly foreign who attended Kolour and related events that turned into a Covid-19 superspreader event. Many foreigners have not come forward, much to health officials chagrin.

Online and on social media, foreigners and Thais shed light on why this urgent public health request is going largely unheeded. Foreigners fear the repercussions of coming forward, especially since Thailand is not allowing staying home or elsewhere in isolation if someone tests positive for Covid-19. Quarantine is mandatory, and with infection numbers exploding across the country, many fear the less-than-posh comforts of being quarantined in an emergency field hospital.

Cost is the other factor that likely is preventing foreigners from turning themselves in to be tested for Covid-19. While Phuket health officials may test people for free, anyone found infected with Covid-19 will be financially responsible for all the costs of their treatment and quarantine. Foreigners with limited financial resources, especially after a year of holing up in Thailand to ride out the Coronavirus, may resist reporting to authorities when they cannot afford the mandatory quarantine and medical treatment.

Perhaps recognizing this hesitation, the message includes a plea for all attendees to self-quarantine and self-monitor for any symptoms over the next week, even if they fail to report or test negative. The note also reminds everyone to wear masks in public at all times. The statement to the public also instructed anyone who attended any of the Covid-19 spreading nightlife events to report to the Acute Respiratory Infection Clinic area of Vachira General Hospital to receive a Covid-19 swab test.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions

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Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | Thaiger

Three of Thailand’s biggest expat areas are seeing sharp rises in new infections, partly from pre-Songkran traffic. The Songkran holidays, now officially over (but will see many people taking today off and making a weekend Songkran extension), and the government says they are expecting to see a rise in the cases numbers reported in the popular holiday locations.

Chon Buri Public Health office says they now have a total of 910 infections since April 1. They have 103 new cases in the past 24 hours. Most new cases are in Bang Lamung district which includes Pattaya City with 47, Siracha with 12) & Chon buri City with 8.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

Meanwhile Phuket has a total of 142 infections recorded on the island with the Governor still insisting there will be no need for a lockdown. Here’s a breakdown of the areas and the numbers of recorded infections so far (below).

Governor Narong announced that the Phuket Infectious Disease Control Committee won’t be implementing an official lockdown, but will “strictly raise the intensity of public health measures to counter the spread of Covid-19″.

“Everyone should wear a face mask, maintain social distancing, wash their hands frequently and install the Mor Chana app (available for free from App Store and Google Play Store).”

A meeting of the CCSA, chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to upgrade restrictions in red zone areas around the country, which includes Phuket and Pattaya. Read more about the latest red and orange zones HERE.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

For Hua Hin expats, there’s been 100 new Covid-19 infections announced in Prachuap Khiri Khan in the past 24 hours, 75 cases from Hua Hin. This takes the total in the province since April 1 to 625. Hua Hin accounts for nearly 90% of the district’s total cases.

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Transport

Footbridges stop luxury yacht travelling from Phuket to Samui

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Footbridges stop luxury yacht travelling from Phuket to Samui | Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand's version of the Suez Canal blockage.

Footbridges in Phuket stood in the way of a luxury yacht travelling from its home in Phuket to Koh Samui when the boat was too tall to pass. Police received a call around 8 pm last night from the truck driver after his trailer carrying the yacht had trouble getting under one of several bridges for walkers to pass over the highway. The boat was travelling down Thepkrasattri Road, where it was stopped by the bridge near Baan Tha Reua School. The boat also had trouble at the pedestrian bridge at the Provincial Electricity Authority Thalang Branch and the bridge at Baan Lipon School in Srisoonthorn.

All the bridges were supposed to have a 5-metre clearance, though one observer speculated that all the repaving of the road over the years may have raised the road and lowered the clearance. Traffic police responded to the first bridge incident by sending officers to direct traffic and make sure bikes and cars didn’t pass and impeded progress on freeing the boat. The second incident about 30 minutes later was resolved by letting air out of the truck’s tires to lower it just enough to pass under the bridge. The third snag prompted the driver to go in person to the Thalang Police station to request help yet again.

This time police were less amused and suggested the truck driver try to resolve the issue himself and call back to the police only if he was unable to free the luxury yacht. A traffic police officer went to follow up with the stranded boat at the end of his shift and found the driver had given up and decided to return the yacht to its Phuket origin at Boat Lagoon Marina in Koh Kaew. The boat, now damaged from the bridge bumps, wasn’t going to make it to Surat Thani to be sailed to Koh Samui on this journey. The boat radar had broken off on one of the bridges. No word on any major damage to the pedestrian bridges.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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