700 join anti-Tesco protest
PHUKET: About 700 people from clubs and communities in Phuket Town marched through the streets this afternoon (August 16) to protest against a proposal to build a new Tesco-Lotus complex on Bangkok Rd, close to the Slaughterhouse Intersection.
Thursday 16 August 2012, 06:00PM
The new complex is expected to have a footprint of 15,950 square metres. The project is currently in a stage of conducting Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to support the project’s proposal. It will also need approval from the Phuket City Municipality.
“The new Tesco affect more than 10,000 people in the area,” said one of protest leaders, Theerapong Iamananjaroen.
“It will bring traffic problems, affect local businesspeople and even ruin the local way of life.”
The location of the new Tesco is in a planning orange zone, defined by land zoning regulations as being for medium-density residences. The regulations state that retail buildings may be built in the area only if they have a footprint of less than 1,000 square metres.
According to Mr Theerapong, Tesco clarified with local people that the Tesco’s own retail building on the site would cover 1,000 sqm. However, it’s not yet clear how much area will be covered by other buildings in the planned complex.
“We require transparency in the public hearing, as well clear details of the new Tesco,” he said.
Protestor Vinai Ruengjaruwan, a local tourism entrepreneur, said he thought the new Tesco would create a “department store culture” among young people.
“Phuket City has its own unique local culture that you can’t replace with anything else,” said Mr Vinai. “We don’t want to see our kids growing up by preferring to eat steak rather than local food.”
The protestors at first planned to gather at Suan Luang Park before marching to the public hearing at the Katrina Hotel on Sakdidetch Rd, and then going on to Phuket Provincial Hall to hand a letter of complaint to Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha.
However, the company conducted Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for Tesco yesterday (August 15) announced an indefinite postponement of the hearing.
After the protestors met with Gov Tri, he assured them that he would bring the issue up at the next meeting of the provincial EIA committee, which he chairs.
“Approval of the new Tesco will be the responsibility by Phuket City Municipality. I think the municipality will need to consider the proposal thoroughly since local people not in favour of the new Tesco,” Gov Tri said.
A spokesperson for Tesco in Bangkok declined to comment immediately on the protest and the issues raised, but said he would put the matter before senior management to come up with a response soon.