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Raw sewage leaves Phuket residents retching

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Polluted water with a stench so overpowering it is making people physically ill has become the bane of residents along the banks of the Bang Yai Canal in Phuket Town.

“People vomit and get serious headaches,” said Samkong resident Lek Bumrung.

“Dirty water is released into the canal at odd intervals, day or night,” she said. “But each time it happens, the stench gets stronger.”

“Untreated wastewater is being dumped into the sewers in Rassada, just before Samkong, then it travels through the sewage system to the main treatment plant at Saphan Hin, where it is treated before being released into the sea,” said Phuket City Municipality Chief Administrative Officer Thawatchai Thongmang.

“We contacted Rassada Municipality, asking them to stop the release of untreated wastewater into the system, but we have yet to receive any response,” he said.

The water in Bang Yai canal has been tested and some of the results were off the scale.

The average biological oxygen demand (BOD), a key indicator of water quality, measured 54. The BOD standard average is about 34, said Chakkrit Songsaeng, Phuket City Wastewater Treatment Chief, who tested the water in the canal where it flows under Yaowarat Bridge in Samkong (map here).

The suspended solids (SS) average weighed in at 44, nearly double the accepted average of 24 and exactly double the industry standard of 22.

But it was the grease and oil (“G&O”) reading that outstripped all other pollutant readings of the Phuket Town canal.

Bang Yai Canal in Samkong oozed a reading of 19.6. The average is about 0.4, Mr Chakkrit said.

While local residents suspect the culprits are industrial factories upstream, Mr Chakkrit points the finger at the slew of new communities that have sprung up along the canal in Rassada in recent years, namely along Soi Paniang just north of Samkong.

To this, Rassada Municipality Chief Administrative Officer Dechakanee Leelanont said that his community was not to blame.

“I assure you the dirty water in Bang Yai Canal is not us,” he said.

“Also, we have not received any request from Phuket City Municipality asking us to stop releasing untreated wastewater into the canal,” he added.

An officer at Rassada Municipality’s Public Health and Environment Department, speaking anonymously, agreed with Mr Chakkrit, saying that the likely culprit was the hundreds of houses that had been built along Soi Paniang in recent years – many without septic tanks installed.

The officer also verified it was not industrial activities along the canal that were polluting the water.

“Almost all factories in Rassada have installed tanks to treat their wastewater before releasing it into the canal, but there are some communities along Soi Paniang that still have not installed septic tanks. That is affecting the water quality,” the officer said.

Jarun Nongsook, an engineer at the Phuket Provincial Industrial office, agreed. “The dirty water affecting Samkong residents is from raw sewage from the Soi Paniang area being emptied into the canal… It is not from the private factories in the area,” he said.

Mr Jarun explained that water-quality tests had found the bankside factories free of blame.

“The BOD average was 9.8, compared with the standard average of 20. Also, the suspended solids average was 9.6, compared with the standard average of 30,” Mr Jarun said.

“The pH average of the water was 6.73 and the G&O average was 4.8, all within the normal parameters,” he said.

“The water the factories release into the canal is clean,” he said.

Meanwhile, Phuket City Wastewater Treatment Chief Chakkrit is already considering installing wastewater treatment plants to ensure the canal’s water quality remains at safe levels.

However, the project is likely to cost upwards of 60 million baht. “We are aware of the problem and we are trying everything we can to solve it. We expect our project to be approved so we can resolve this issue to help local residents,” Mr Chakkrit said.

— Irfarn Jamdukor

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Thailand

Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Airways

After nearly 9 months on the ground due to the coronavirus pandemic, along with problems balancing their accounts, Thai Airways will resume flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well as Bangkok and Phuket later this month. The flights will start back up on Christmas day.

Flights from Bangkok to the 2 key tourist provinces have been grounded since April 1. Starting December 25, the airline will run 3 flights a week on both routes. A source told the Bangkok Post that the new schedules will run until at least February 28.

Thai Lion Air, Thai Air Asia, Nok Air, Thai Smile, VietJet Air and Bangkok Airways have returned to the domestic skies since July and slowly adding frequency to their routes.

In addition to resuming the domestic flights, the Thai Airways is relaunching some international flights from January 1 to March 27 including weekly flights to Frankfurt, London, Copenhagen, Sydney, Seoul, Manila, Taipei and Osaka. Flights from Bangkok to Tokyo will be available 3 times a week and flights from Bangkok to Hong Kong will be available every day.

Thai Airways has been tackling bankruptcy throughout the lockdown and trying to make up for more than 300 billion baht in losses. Since many flights were suspended due to travel restrictions, Thai Airways has tried to make money by business ventures on the ground, like a pop-up restaurant serving in-flight meals and selling off unwanted equipment from their warehouse. There also disposing of much of their older fleet, including all of their Boring 747-400s.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments

Maya Taylor

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97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.newsbeezer.com

97 police officers, from 41 police stations, are currently being investigated for an alleged scam involving Covid-19 payments meant for officers who worked extra shifts during the crisis. The case was assigned by national police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk in November, when it came to light that some officers may have fraudulently claimed allowances meant for others.

In one incident, an officer responsible for transferring extra payments to police on the southern island of Phuket transferred the money to his own accountant instead. At the time, the transfer was dismissed as a mistake (in his favour), with the officer in question receiving a warning, and payments then made to the qualifying officers.

Wissanu Prasatthong-Osot from the National Internal Affairs Police says the investigation should reach a conclusion within the next 10 days.

“The result of the investigation should be ready in 10 days. Currently, 97 officers in 41 police stations ranging from non-commissioned to generals are under investigation for being involved in the swindle. The bureau aims to provide justice to all policemen involved. After the investigation concludes, the victims will receive their full allowance, while the offending officers will be punished under the law and disciplinary standards.”

Nation Thailand reports that a full list of alleged offenders has been sent to Suwat, with Wissanu promising that none will escape prosecution.

“The National Police chief had also ordered the transfer of offending officers at the commander and sub-commander levels out of their areas as per the investigation procedures.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77 kaoded

A tourism route from Guangzhou, China to Phuket could help the island province recover from the recession brought on by the pandemic and lack of foreign travel, according to the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The president of the organisation, Narongsak Puttapornmongkol, says they plan to submit a letter proposing the route under a travel bubble scheme to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

The Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce is proposing a travel bubble with around 20 cities in China with no recent coronavirus infections and considered to be at a low risk of spreading the virus. Travellers from Guangzhou recently entered Thailand on the new Special Tourist Visa. It was the second flight of international tourists since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

“We believe that the Travel Bubble and the quarantine reduction will resolve the tourism business, which is a huge economic opportunity to recover.”

Once a vaccine is widely available, Narongsak suggests that those who wish to Thailand could also present their vaccination certificate or examination reports from the place of origin. He adds that the mandatory state quarantine period is likely to be reduced.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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