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Surprise opinions at Patong plan public hearing

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Surprise opinions at Patong plan public hearing | Thaiger

PATONG: A public hearing to discuss a town plan for Patong took place at Patong City Hall yesterday.

The meeting drew about 80 people, an assortment of government officers, academics, local businessmen and residents.

Listening to the feedback were researchers from Consultants of Technology (COT) Co, a Bangkok-based consulting firm, and representatives of the Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning.

Dr Supornchai Siriwoharn, a member of the COT research team, told the meeting that the new town plan would affect future generations and urged participants to think in the long term – up to 30 years into the future – when making their recommendations.

“Our company will gather all the suggestions and opinions we receive and come up with a draft plan that conforms with the needs of Patong residents. Then we will return and present the draft for public scrutiny to ensure that it is really what people want,” Dr Supornchai said.

Speaking as a local businessman, Pian Keesin pointed to a map of Patong and noted that the area along Nanai Rd, now home to over 1,000 apartments and private residences, was still zoned as agricultural land.

K. Pian, whose election as Mayor in June has yet to be approved by the Election Commission, served his last stint as Mayor of Patong from October 1998 to 2001.

He said that public areas have been built upon with no regard for the town’s future and urged the planners to enact zoning regulations that would prevent further encroachment on public waterways. He called for an improved network of drainage canals and asked the planners to allow for the development of public parks along their banks in the future.

Speaking of Patong’s traffic woes, he said that the plan should also solve Patong’s oversupply of tuk-tuks and motorbike taxis.

“First we need to learn their exact number. Then we need to establish suitable places for them. But I am not sure if the Governor, the police and other bodies are really committed to the law enforcement effort that would be needed [to solve the traffic problem].”

“I once suggested to PM Thaksin Shinawatra that the government buy back the land on which the Phuket Cabana and Patong Bayshore hotels are built, to make a parking area. I am a partner in both these hotels, but I don’t mind selling the land back at actual cost and demolishing the hotels if it is in the public interest,” he said.

Regarding overcrowding along Patong Beach, K. Pian said that only about 10% of the five-kilometer stretch of beachfront property was actually titled, so it should be easy to rectify the problem if government officials were really committed to the effort.

Patong resident Boonchuai Ruanpetch agreed that planning was needed, but added that poor public relations had meant that few residents knew anything about the hearing in advance, and therefore it was a failure.

K. Boonchuai also blamed a lack of political leadership in the past for Patong’s chronic woes.

“There were former Patong Chief Administrative Officers who were keen to solve Patong’s problems, but there was a powerful politician – and I don’t want to name him – who derived his power base from the people who were causing all the problems,” he said.

Malinee Setanant, Director of Planning Standards Development Division of the Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning, assured those in attendance that the plan finally adopted would reflect public needs.

Once finalized, the plans and new regulations associated with them could go into effect immediately a new order is issued by the Ministry of Interior, she said.

She said her department and the consulting firm had already identified the need to prevent flooding in Patong, and that new regulations prohibiting residents from filling in drainage courses would likely be adopted. The town’s natural waterways would be returned to the public, she said.

The consultants and government planners held similar poorly-attended public hearings for Kamala and Cherng Talay today, and have scheduled another for Mai Khao tomorrow at 8 am, at the Aerothai Building.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions

Tim Newton

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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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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge

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Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge | Thaiger
PHOTO: Hotels and other tourism business are hoping the July 1st reopening goal can still be achieved.

A hotel information blog is claiming that, despite growing Covid-19 numbers, Phuket should stick to its schedule in reopening to travellers without quarantine in July. That’s only 2 and a half months away.

In an interview with the Director of Travel and Tourism Consulting at GlobalData, they stressed that while it is crucial to rein in the spread of Covid-19 and the B117 strain now menacing Thailand, the risk must not overshadow the need to push forward with vaccinations and the march towards eliminating the quarantine by July in order to save the tourism industry and all those dependent on it.

“The Phuket pilot program is essential in creating a path towards economic recovery for Thailand, a country heavily dependent on tourism. More than 17% of Thailand’s gross domestic product is attributed to tourism and the Covid-19 pandemic has lead to the worst economic free-fall in over 20 years”

The blog acknowledges the inherent risk and possible appearance of foolishness to prioritise the plans to reopen and carry on with the same rollout schedule. But they urge Thai authorities to consider that July 1 is still 2 and a half months away, leaving ample time to recover and make progress towards the approaching Phuket reopening. A vital aspect of the reopening plan lies in vaccinating over 70% of Phuket’s provincial residents, a sizable task, but one that brings great benefit with or without the scheduled reopening.

“Pushing ahead to achieve this goal puts Phuket on track to welcome back tourists, perhaps in a “bio-bubble”, and restart the economy. The economy is desperate with household debt growing, pushing the government to enact emergency decrees to provide relief. These households need the return of tourism and the influx of cash international tourists will bring.”

The blog hopes that Thai authorities can balance the necessary Covid-19 safety measures in Phuket to protect the Thai population with the economic need to bring back tourism. They believe that with sufficient measures in place, vaccinated locals could welcome vaccinated international tourists back to Phuket reopening safely in July.

SOURCE: Hotel News Resource

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