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Racha residents call for Phuket officials to fulfill old promises



PHUKET: The ongoing struggle to protect the beauty and environmental health of the tourist-popular Racha Yai Island, about 25 kilometers south of Phuket, continued yesterday in a meeting with Vice Governor Sommai Prijasilpa.

Santi Chandi, representative of Racha Yai residents, asked the vice governor to solve the problems she had promised to solve at a meeting in May 2012.

At that meeting, environmentalists told V/Gov Sommai that Koh Racha faced environmental damage due to some resort owners improperly disposing of trash and wastewater. They also complained that resort developers were cutting down trees in forests on the island.

V/G Sommai promised to have environmental protection measures in place within two months.

Six months later, Mr Santi filed a formal complaint asserting government inaction (story here).

Yesterday, Mr Santi tried again, urging the government to take action to protect the island.

He also added a new complaint to the list, one already familiar to Phuket residents: foreigners taking local jobs.

Mr Santi cited Chinese and Korean operators promoting diving for non-divers, in which tourists don a helmet attached to an oxygen supply tube and go helmet diving.

“These operators used to hire local longtail boats, but now they have their own longtail boats and don’t rent from us anymore.

“And they are hurting our local dive operators by stealing their customers,” Mr Santi said.

He asked responsible officers to investigate the issue.

V/Gov Sommai admitted that solutions to the island’s problems had been slow in coming. “I will order departments who are responsible for these problems to check and fix them,” she said.

Officers will conduct an inspection of Koh Racha on Thursday and will propose solutions “in order to move Koh Racha forward”, she added.

In the meantime, V/Gov Sommai asked for the cooperation of island residents in solving the problems.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong


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