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Vendors forced from Kamala Beach

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Vendors forced from Kamala Beach | The Thaiger
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KAMALA: More than 40 police officers forced beachfront food stall vendors and sun-bed operators to vacate Kamala Beach yesterday morning, to clear the area for the tsunami memorial services on Monday.

Kathu District Chief Khantee Silapa told the Gazette the beach was cleared after an order from Phuket Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura, because Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is to visit the area.

However, it was later confirmed that PM Thaksin will not visit the beach itself on Monday, but will instead pass by en route to Patong. Deputy Prime Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit will attend the Kamala service in his place.

“There were about 36 shops on the beach. The owners of three shops did not move, but they promised to do so by tomorrow [December 24],” K. Khantee told the Gazette yesterday.

“After the tsunami anniversary, Kathu District Office will invite shop-owners to a meeting to establish a zone for beachfront vendors. If we do not set up such a zone, the shops will make the area look dirty,” he said.

The Gazette heard about the move after receiving calls from concerned tourists. One European visitor who comes to Kamala Beach every year said, “I heard that they had been warned before but did not do anything – but today surprised everyone.

“I think it’s so sad to act like this, because after the tsunami the vendors invested money to rebuild their business. But if the [government] does things like this, it is like a second tsunami for them,” he said.

One Kamala native, whose family has been selling food at the beach for more than 25 years, told the Gazette, “I understand that they will hold the tsunami memorial service here, but there’s no need to take away our stalls. My shop is just a small tent and does not cover a large area.”

She said the vendors did not receive any official document ordering them to move. “They said that they will let us return after December 27, but they also said they could not tell us where, or anything specific.

“I pay tax to Kamala OrBorTor [Tambon Administration Organization] and my family has had a permit to sell here for 25 years, but today there were no officers from Kamala OrBorTor here,” she added.

“[This year] we lost income from our businesses and our houses were damaged by the tsunami, and we have just started work again.

“What are supposed to do? Eat fresh air? Having a business here does not mean having good trade every day. We must wait until there are more tourists, and some days we have had heavy rain or strong winds, and have not been able to open.

“The officers threatened us with arrest if we tried to stop them pulling down our stalls. We asked what they would charge us with. We just sell food on public land – we do not sell illegal items,” she said.

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