Phuket governor calls for probe into Laem Nga beach blockade

Photo courtesy of PR Phuket

Phuket Vice Governor Sattha Thongkham demanded a probe into the barricading of privately owned land at Lemg Nga, located at the northern edge of Koh Siray, which has obstructed public access to Laem Nga Beach.

This directive came on the heels of a protest by local villagers on-site on March 7. The locals voiced their demand for the restoration of public access to the beach. They held up banners and chanted slogans, accusing private business owners of monopolizing public land for their sole benefit.

Despite the presence of law enforcement officers overseeing the protest, the event remained peaceful with no reports of violence. Following the demonstration, Vice Governor Sattha invited the protesters’ representatives to join a discussion at the Phuket Provincial Hall later that afternoon. Other attendees included Ratsada Mayor Nakarin Yosaengrat and several other officials.

During the dialogue, the villagers put forth a list of demands, the crux of which was the immediate reopening of access to Laem Nga Beach by the private sector. They further requested the private landowner to enhance the pathway to the beach, ensure cleanliness, and set up electric lights to make the path safe for nighttime use. They also sought an official inquiry into the legality of the land’s ownership and acquisition.

The villagers explained that the 1.5 kilometres long and 10 metres wide road leading to the beach was a public path constructed by the Department of Rural Roads in 2016, and was officially recognized as Rural Road PorKor 4097. They expressed their disappointment that despite previous inspections of the area and negotiations with the landowner, Laem Nga Development Co Ltd, no further action had been taken after the road was shut down.

Interestingly, the company claimed ownership of the land on which the last 468-metre stretch of the road to the beach was constructed. Ratsada Mayor Nakarin revealed that he had already initiated a dialogue with the landowner, who had agreed to reopen beach access within 15 days. However, he also noted that some villagers had already started removing the tin panels blocking the beach access, reported Phuket News.

Given the situation, Vice Governor Sattha issued three distinct directives for the investigation of the road access to the beach and the land ownership. These orders were specifically addressed to the Phuket Provincial Damrongdharma Center (provincial ombudsman’s office), the Mueang District Chief, and the Phuket Land Office.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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