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Work on new Phuket incinerator to start next month

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Work on new Phuket incinerator to start next month | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana has confirmed that the construction of Phuket’s long-awaited second solid waste incinerator is to begin next month, while a 43-million-baht project to improve the surrounding landfill is now complete.

“Construction of the new plant was delayed because the original plans had be to modified for the incinerator to pass the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) process, but now they are ready and construction will begin in late July. It should be finished by December next year,” Mayor Somjai told the Gazette.

According to a Phuket City Municipality press release issued on June 5, the 43-million-baht project has just been completed and will help alleviate Phuket’s mounting solid waste problem.

Residents on the island currently generate about 500 tonnes of trash daily, but the existing incinerator at Saphan Hin can only dispose of about half that amount.

The rest goes into five landfill plots covering around 120 rai around the incinerator. In use since 1993, the landfill already harbors about a million tonnes of trash up to 15 meters thick in some locations, five meters below the ground and 10 meters above. Both the incinerator and landfills are run by Phuket City Municipality, but must accept trash from all 20 local administrative districts on the island.

The landfill improvement project, just completed by Boonchai Panich (1979) Co Ltd, took 400 days to finish from its starting date in April last year. Workers extended three landfills to boost their capacity, while sealing off a fourth plot that was full to capacity and re-arranging a fifth plot so it can accommodate more waste. The project also included the installation of a drainage system and waste water-treatment plant.

The project ended May 6 this year, but despite boosting the total landfill capacity by an extra 110,000 tonnes, authorities expect the entire landfill to be filled to capacity within about one year.

That stark realization prompted the Phuket Provincial Trash Management Committee to invoke a new policy requiring all 20 local administrations to ensure trash is separated at the point of collection, thereby reducing the volume of trash that reaches the incinerator.

Brought into effect at a meeting on May 27, the new policy was coupled with a directive ordering local administrations to form a provincial Nature and Environment Protection Volunteer Network with “branches” in each of the local administrations’ areas of authority. The network is to teach and promote trash separation and recycling to local residents.

Each local administration is also to set up designated trash-separation centers in their areas of control.

Under the new policy, residents are to separate their trash into recyclable materials, organic waste and hazardous materials, all ready for separate collection by local garbage men.

Penalties for residents not separating their trash are still being considered, as are any new fees that may be introduced to cover the cost of fitting out the garbage trucks so that trash can be collected in a way that separation is maintained.

A big problem in the past has been that trash sorted at curbside has mixed back together by garbage men during the collection process. The problem reduces efficiency at the incinerator because organic waste contains a great deal of water vapor, which lowers the burning temperature and results in lost electric power production, incomplete combustion and higher levels of chemical pollutants released into the atmosphere.

The presence of wet waste, particularly common during the rainy season, causes the same problems.

Local administrations are now studying what penalties and fees may be levied for non-compliance with the new policies and will present their findings to the Phuket Provincial Trash Management Committee for further consideration.

— S. Nongkaew & S. Fein

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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 annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Marina Krasnopolska

WARNING! Content below contains photos of self-mutilation that some may find disturbing.

The flags on Go Teng poles were lowered on Monday, ending Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival and symbolising that the spirits have returned the heavens. The flags are raised at the start of the festivities each year at participating shrines, calling on the spirits to descend from the heavens.

This year, 2 men were electrocuted while taking down the festival flags. A steel pole with the flag touched a power pole, electrocuting and burning the workers as they were trying to lower the flags. They were taken to the hospital.

During the festival’s street processions and ceremonies so-called “mah songs” channel the descended spirits. They enter a trance-like state and many practice self-mutilation to channel the spirits. “Mah” means horse in Thai, and some say the mah song acts as a horse for the spirit to ride.

Some mah song pierce their cheeks and other parts of their body with steel spikes and sometimes swords or other bizarre choices (we’ve seen petrol pumps, javelins, samurai swords and kitchen utensils). During the street procession, they walk for hours with the self-inflicted piercings, seemingly posessed by ‘spirits’ and muttering all sort of strange chants, verging on mild cases of Tourette syndrome. A team of devotees for each mah song wipe away blood and keep the wounds clean. Some mah songs even slice their tongue for the street procession. Blood drips on their chest and the ground. Waiting bystanders line the streets hoping for the blessing of a passing mah song. Some mah songs carry a black flag.

The event is an annual spiritual ‘cleansing’ for those in watching the processions. Onlookers lining the street bow their heads and place their hands in the “wai” position as the mah song waves flags and banners over their heads. Businesses along the procession route often set up an altar outside their shop and mah songs stop at each one to do a short ritual.

The Phuket government gave the festival organisers the “okay” to hold this years event with hopes that it would increase domestic tourism and generate much-needed revenue after the Thai government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic crippled Phuket’s tourist economy. Before this year’s festival, Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana asked that the mah songs “limit the level of torturing.” He also called for a limit on the number of people at ceremonies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

His calls were largely ignored.

The spirits will again return in 2021 to Phuket again cleanse the island’s large Thai-Chinese community.

Photos of the 2020 Vegetarian Festival by Marina Krasnopolska.

Phuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Daily News

As Phuket awaits foreign tourists, city officials are told to prepare a “response plan” in case of a second wave of Covid-19. An official from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports held a workshop in Phuket today to discuss the risk of another outbreak as the country opens up to those on the Special Tourist Visa.

The ministry’s permanent secretary Chote Trachu says now that the country is allowing tourists (who are required to quarantine upon arrival) an infection “may somehow slip through.” He says a response plan needs to be in place in case this happens, adding that there should be corporation from the Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Defense.

“If any tourists are found to be infected, the disease must not be allowed to spread among the people. There should be no panic, and public health officers will investigate the case. Tourist Police will track down the suspected person in an investigation with the Ministry of Public Health.”

Chote says all provinces – not just Phuket – should have a response plan. Although tourists must go through a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon arrival, Chote says there are some cases where the incubation period for Covid-19 is longer than 14 days.

“There are a variety of cases. Sometimes, the infection does not show after 14 days, or even 15 or 16 days. Each situation is different.”

Recently, a woman in Koh Samui tested positive for the coronavirus 5 days after she was released from a Samut Prakan quarantine facility. Traces of the virus were found on gym equipment the woman used at the quarantine, leading health officials to suspect she was infected before arriving to the island.

“We urge Thai people to not let their guard down. Everyone must wear masks, wash their hands and take care of personal hygiene. This will help prevent them from contracting the disease.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Business

Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 – 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the southern island’s battered economy. Phuket has become increasingly reliant on a steady flow of tourists over the past 2 decades.

The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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