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Phuket

Road to encroachment divides Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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MAI KHAO, PHUKET: Villagers and local officials are at odds over whether a new road in Mai Khao caused the destruction of 25 rai of peat swamp forest – or stopped the encroachment from being much worse.

Mai Khao Tambon Administration Organization built the 28-million-baht road, which is 3.5 kilometers long and skirts the boundary of Jik Forest.

Mai Khao TAO President Sarawut Srisakhukham said the road was built for two reasons: “to serve the convenience of both tourists and local villagers, and to protect the forest from encroachment by investors.”

Nevertheless, he admitted the forest had shrunk from 102 rai to 77 rai since the road was built.

The road served as a boundary, protecting what remained of the peat swamp forest, he maintained.

“Private land and the forest are clearly separated by the road,” he said. “If we didn’t build it, I’m sure all the forest would be gone.”

But villagers complained that the road had actually caused the destruction of a large portion of the forest because new developments have sprung up along it.

Responding to their concerns, Phuket MP Chalermlak Kebsup asked the Natural Resources and Environment Committee of the House of Representatives to launch an investigation into the project.

Committee President Waruj Siriwat, Vice President Narit Khamnurak, Mr Chalermlak and Phuket Vice Governor Smith Palawatwichai visited the site on Thursday.

Mr Waruj confirmed that encroachment had occurred.

“Villagers are afraid the road has damaged the forest and that it will bring more property construction into the area,” he said.

“We have to check whether there was a public hearing and environmental impact assessment before the construction started,” he said, adding that the committee would have the answers by its next meeting on Wednesday.

Mr Waruj noted that the peat swamp and mangrove forests in the northwest of Phuket had been nominated by Thailand as a Ramsar Convention site, meaning they were of international importance and should be protected.

The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty aimed at conserving the world’s wetlands to which Thailand is a signatory.

“In the future, these forests will become very important tourist attractions,” Mr Waruj said.

“I told President Sarawut I hoped this forest would be the last site to be encroached upon because it takes about 100 years to recover from the loss of biological variety,” he said.

His committee was determined to put an end to forest encroachment, he said.

When interviewed by the Gazette, Mr Sarawut was quick to defend the Jik Forest road project.

“I’ve confirmed that this project has been very useful to people coming to the beach, fishermen looking for fish and crabs, as well as investors,” he said.

After the committee finished its survey of Jik Forest, members went on to view an 8-rai plot of mangrove forest in Muang Mai, Village 5, tambon Thepkrasattri, part of which had also been destroyed.

A wide area of forest and a former canal had been filled with soil, while a pile of tires was set nearby in preparation to burn the trees.

Coconut trees were ready to plant in the plot as a sign of ownership.

The land belonged to the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, Mr Waruj said.

“We don’t understand why Phuket’s executives let these problems happen,” he said. “I told Vice Governor Smith [Palawatwichai] to focus on stopping encroachment and punish those responsible,” he said.

Villagers said the soil, tires and coconut trees had been brought to the site at night.

“We heard the truck running from the main road, but nobody dared check who was actually doing this…Many calls were made to the police, but there was no response,” one villager told the Gazette.

“We feel very upset because we love this land and plant more trees every year on Mother’s and Father’s Day… But now there’s no fish left in the canal for us.”

— Gazette Reporters

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

3 organisers of Phuket’s Kolour superspreader event charged

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: 3 managers involved in the Kolour superspreader event have been charged.

As Thailand still wrestles to control the third wave of Covid-19, much of which stems from entertainment venues in Bangkok and a massive party in Phuket, Patong police announced that the managers of the Phuket venues that hosted the Kolour superspreader event will be charged under the Emergency Decree. The case report was filed with the public prosecutor yesterday according to the Patong police chief, confirming that 3 people will be prosecuted for the event.

The Kolour Beachside Festival was held April 2 and 3 with events at Café Del Mar Phuket in Kamala, and Shelter Phuket Dance and Night Club and Illuzion Nightclub, both in Patong. Before the festival, Phuket had gone more than a hundred days without any new Covid-19 infections, but by April 7 the Phuket provincial Public Health office announced 8 new infections, half of which had been at the Kolour parties. In the following weeks, officials plead for attendees to be tested as infections spread.

Charges were delayed in being filed to the Phuket Public Prosecutor’s office as a special investigation committee was ordered to be created to oversee the investigation at the request of Region 8’s Police Commander. That committee brought together officials from various law enforcement in the area including the Patong Police, Kamala Police, Phuket Provincial Police, and the Region 8 Police to investigate the Kolour event before anyone was charged.

The manager of Café Del Mar, along with the managing director and the manager of Shelter and Illuzion, which are under the same management team, will be charged for the Kolour festival violating Thailand’s Emergency Decree that was declared to help protect the country from Covid-19 outbreaks. A breach of the Emergency Decree can be held liable for up to 40,000 Baht and 2 years in jail under Section 9 of the Decree.

The latter 2 are also facing charges of operating an unlicensed entertainment venue. This carries the possibility of another year in prison and a fine of up to 60,000 baht, in accordance with Thai Law under Section 26 of the Entertainment Place Act.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Road deaths

Phuket woman impaled by steel rod in motorbike accident

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: CCTV footage shows the Woman impaled in a motorbike crash.

Police were called to the scene of a gruesome motorbike accident just after midnight in the Kathu area of Phuket, where a woman was impaled by a steel rod. The 34 year old woman crashed her motorbike into a concrete power pole on Wichit Songkram Rd between the Kathu Shrine and Kathu Municipality. rescue workers responded, and together with police, they arrived to find the woman still hanging from the power pole.

Khanuengnit Onoaun was driving a black and pink Honda Click motorbike and may have been speeding just before being impaled by the rod on the electric pole. Her motorbike was lying nearby the pole with significant damage to the front of the bike and the front wheel.

CCTV footage recovered from the scene suggest that the woman may have fallen asleep and crashed into the power pole. The pole had steel rods protruding from its side that utility workers use to climb when service or repairs are needed to the electrical lines, which is what impaled her when her motorbike hit the pole.

The metal rod pierced the woman’s upper chest and went all the way through her body with about 2 inches exposed on the other side of her as she hung from the pole. Rescue workers could not remove her from the steel rod at the scene of the accident safely and instead chose to cut the rod to take her off the electric pole and into an ambulance. Cutting through the steel took about 5 minutes for the rescuers.

She arrived and was admitted into Vachira Phuket Hospital with the metal rod still impaled through her chest. The hospital had no updates about the woman’s condition after her motorbike crash other than that she is alive and receiving treatment currently. The police plan on questioning her once she has had time to recover and investigating the incident further if necessary.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Phuket

TAT looks forward to welcoming 129,000 foreign tourists to Phuket

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Flickr / jeiline

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says it expects 129,000 tourists to arrive on the southern island of Phuket in the first 3 months of its re-opening. Officials still insist the island will re-open for quarantine-free travel for vaccinated foreign tourists from July 1. And according to the Bangkok Post, the TAT also plans to team up with airlines to offer 100,000 subsidised one-way domestic air tickets.

The association is in talks with Thai Airways and Thai Smile Airways about offering a 1,000 – 2,000 baht subsidy towards domestic air fares for tourists participating in Phuket’s sandbox scheme. The scheme will also be expanded to include all local carriers.

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn expects around 30,000 – 40,000 tourists a month, through Phuket’s sandbox model, with the primary target being long-haul markets. According to Yuthasak, 7-day packages in Phuket will be on offer for a somewhat eye-watering 150,000 – 200,000 baht per visitor, a significant increase on the 50,000 baht average spending per trip prior to the pandemic.

The Bangkok Post reports that most tourists will be required to arrive via a direct flight to Phuket. However, in the event of there being no available time slots at the airport, tourists will be permitted to transfer via Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport using a dedicated sealed terminal.

Once the other 9 sandbox areas join the re-opening, Yuthasak expects between 3 and 4 million tourists in the last quarter of the year. He says standard operating procedures to govern the entry of foreign tourists, including Covid-19 testing and guidelines for sealed routes, will be submitted to the Centre for Economic Situation Administration this month. Once approved and published in the Royal Gazette, tourism operators can launch their sales and marketing plans.

Yuthasak adds that work is needed on the supply and administration of vaccines, pointing out that new clusters in places like Bangkok could affect vaccine administration in Phuket.

“The new outbreak in Thailand didn’t affect tourism sentiment in foreign markets as the media in each country turned their focus towards the situation in India and domestic cases in their own countries. However, travel agents expressed concern that the virus situation may affect the reopening timeline which prompted TAT to confirm that everything is running as scheduled.”

He said travel agents are waiting for clear entry regulations, so they can offer packages to their customers.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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