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Rubbish piling up on Phuket’s sister ‘eco-island’

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Rubbish piling up on Phuket’s sister ‘eco-island’ | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Now that the two municipal landfills on Koh Yao Noi are filled to capacity, villagers living on the island are demanding new solutions.

About 30 villagers on May 12 handed a letter of complaint to Mayor Somphol Roengsamut at the Koh Yao Noi Municipality offices.

The group said waste management had been a problem for years on the island.

Leading the group, Koh Yao Tourism Business Committee President Soonthorn Sagulsan said, “Having landfills for dumping waste is not a permanent solution.”

Citing the example of Phuket, the residents are convinced that an incinerator is their best solution. However, unlike in Phuket, where the incinerator is located near the homes, school and workplaces of many people, none of the Koh Yao Noi villagers want to be near it.

The island’s two landfills – one behind the Koh Yao District Office on the west side of the island, the other in a mangrove forest named Klong Lo Moon on the east side – were ordered shut down earlier this month.

Many residents believe the closures were the result of the overwhelming stench they emitted, coupled with the considerable fees charged to dump there.

“Koh Yao Noi Municipality sent us a letter informing us of the closure of the entrance to the landfill behind the District Office, but they didn’t cite a reason for it,” said Nisanat Tintalae, the municipality’s chief administrative officer.

“Koh Yao Noi Municipality told us they couldn’t handle the smell and the waste disposal fees were too high,” said Mr Soonthorn.

“Five years ago Koh Yao Noi was awarded a budget of 60 million baht under a Royal Patronage project by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to implement a permanent waste management solution… but nothing has ever been done,” he said.

Frenchman George Cortaz, 51, is director of Koyao Bay Pavilions. An 11-year resident of the island, he said, “For the past three to four years, the smell has become more and more of a problem. I wish the government would do something about it. When the tide is high, it sucks waste down to the water.

“Koh Yao Noi is well known, with a reputation for eco-tourism, but this problem is ruining it,” he noted.

Mr Soonthorn said a local degradation in water quality related to the landfill had affected the local community, most of which relies of fishing as the primary occupation.

“Besides this, water in the area causes people to itch upon contact,” he complained.

Mayor Somphol explained to the villagers in the meeting room that the municipality has been trying to solve the problem – thus far without success.

After surveying seven potential sites to build an incinerator, five in Village 6 and two in Village 7, they could not reach a consensus, he explained.

“Villagers there refused to have an incinerator built on their land, claiming they were not well informed,” he said.

“They misunderstood, thinking the incinerator would cause a bad stench like the landfill behind District Office,” he added.

Despite this, the municipality was scheduled to meet again to discuss the possibility of having a “temporary incinerator” built behind the district office, he said.

The incinerator under consideration would cost about two million baht and have the capacity to burn a tonne of rubbish per day, he said.

“However, it would take up to two months to get the incinerator ready for operation,” he noted.

“In the meantime, I will chair a meeting with the municipal council and seek to allow villagers to resume disposing of their waste behind Koh Yao District Office,” the Mayor added.

In regards to the royally-endorsed project, it was canceled after two years because the municipality was unsuccessful in its attempts to acquire suitable land, he said.

To build a permanent incinerator, the municipality needs two rai, he explained.

“…So if anyone has the land, we would be delighted to accept offers for consideration,” he said in closing the meeting.

Mr Soonthorn said the villagers wanted the board meeting to be an open one in order to ensure transparency.

“We are satisfied. The mayor has informed us the board will be meeting to solve the problem. The most important thing is that we are allowed to attend the meeting so we can be fully informed about the decision-making process,” he said.

— Chutarat Plerin

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

Phuket

Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | The Thaiger

The Soi Dog Foundation has officially opened its Humane Education Centre, the first of its kind in Thailand dedicated to the welfare of stray animals. The centre, located at the Soi Dog shelter in northern Phuket, forms part of the foundation’s Humane Education program. Rolled out in 2017, the program sees a team visit Thai schools to teach the next generation the basic principles of animal welfare and promote empathetic attitudes towards both owned pets and free-roaming strays.

The program has reached a total of 15,058 students and 861 teachers to date. With a dedicated classroom as well as educational tools and resources now on site at the shelter, Soi Dog will be able to expand the programme and reach an even greater number of young minds.

Co-founder and president of Soi Dog Foundation International John Dalley said, “The cornerstones of what we do – what I believe very firmly are the answers to the stray dog problem throughout Asia – are large-scale sterilisation of stray dogs and cats and education of, particularly, the next generation.

“We see all the time the problems that are being caused through us not respecting the environment and not respecting the other animals with whom we share this planet. That’s why education is so important.”

John also thanked the supporters and donors who made the construction of the centre possible. After cutting the ribbon, the students filed into the brand-new facility for the very first on-site class – a fun and interactive hour of roleplaying, brainstorming and problem solving.

Humane Education Manager Nuttawut “Film” Kumngern. said… “We want to encourage kindness toward animals, especially free-roaming dogs and cats, and teach youngsters to be responsible pet owners. This will sustainably reduce animal cruelty and pet abandonment.”

“We hope to one day see animal welfare incorporated into the curriculum in Thai schools, and our education centre is a great start.”

Soi Dog is ready to welcome school groups from Phuket and other provinces to the centre which can accommodate up to 40 students at any one time. Schools interested in participating are encouraged to email film@soidog.org

Phuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The ThaigerPhuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The Thaiger

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International Schools

Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket

The Thaiger

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Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket | The Thaiger

Chalong police in Phuket say they have yet to start investigating the illegal hiring of foreign teachers at an international school in Rawai, south of the island. Palm House International School allegedly hired foreign teachers illegally in which 2 were arrested by Phuket Immigration police on November 4.

Somkiet Sarasin, the leading investigator of the case, says the 2 Brits were informed that police were processing a charge of working illegally in the country against them, in which both denied the charges. Somkiet says the 2 were released on bail, but did not confirm the amount of bail that was set by the police.

“They are still staying in Thailand. I am not worried. I have their passports. I am not available to explain [any details] because the investigation is still ongoing.”

“This is normal for an investigation when the suspects deny the charge against them. I have to check more information against their claims. This case will probably be concluded next month.”

However, the investigation has yet to begin, with Somkiet saying he has not even questioned the owner of the school, despite his claims the case would be finished next month.

“The investigation into the school will take time. The investigation into the two British people must be finished first.”

Such allegations of foreign teachers working illegally have recently been in the news after Sarasas Witaed Sainoi Pitiyakarn School, in the central province of Nonthaburi, saw 7 foreign teachers probed for being hired illegally. That school, along with others in its private network, made nationwide news after CCTV caught a Thai teacher hitting, pushing and dragging a young student in the classroom. Such widespread violence against students has long been a sad component of many Thai schools, in which some of the teachers are unqualified and unlicensed to teach, but are hired anyway.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Tourism

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend

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Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | The Thaiger

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says that Phuket has received a much-needed 300 million baht boost over the 4 day long weekend with around 54,000 tourists flocking to the island from last Thursday through to yesterday.

Phuket Office Director Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, reports that the average expenditure per visitor was about 5,500 baht, which was higher than the average spend for a Thai tourist to Phuket 2 years ago. She also noted that random checks on hotels showed that occupancy rates climbed to about 35%, with most guests staying 2 nights. But most of Phuket’s hotels remain closed.

Nanthasiri also says that many of the tourists concentrated themselves in the Phuket Old Town area, especially around Thalang Road, Phang Nga Road, and Dibuk Road in order to enjoy at the Sino-Portuguese shophouse architecture and historical locations. In fact much of Phuket Town, including its many markets and alley eateries, were doing roaring business, The Thaiger can vouch for the heavy traffic, on the roads and footpaths, over the past 4 days.

“This special holiday made Phuket tourism livelier, even though it was not as same as the situation before the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In fact, despite the welcome surge of visitors, it was still a long, long way from its previous tourist levels with much of the west coast, which has largely catered for the international tourist traffic, was still very quiet in places like Patong, Kata and Karon.

Phuket wasnt the only destination that has profited off of the long weekend as Chiang Mai saw droves of Thai tourists visiting its Royal Park Rajapruek as well as the northern city’s other nearby national parks and tourist areas. Visitors came from all over to see the blossoming of flowers in a beautiful display at the park as well as enjoying the air-purifying flowers as they relaxed. Tourists were able to rent a bicycle for 60 baht if they wanted to exercise while taking in the scenery and could also pay a visit to the orchid greenhouse, which hosts a variety of orchids in bloom. TripAdvisor recommends to set aside 2 hours to visit the park.

Next holiday weekend, on November 27 and 28, Pattaya is expected to get a tourism boost as its annual fireworks festivalis set to bring in travellers who have taken advantage of package deals offered by some beachside hotels. Such packages were offered for advance bookings, where holidaymakers could view the firework shows on the rooftops of their hotels. The firework displays are said to be long with breaks of entertainment-packed shows, featuring live music and student bands amongst others.

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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