Gov Chockchai ordered the Patong authority to halt its reclamation of the the government-owned building after food vendors appealed to him for help again today en masse at Phuket Provincial Hall.
The vendors’ appeal follows Patong Municipality workers sealing off the building yesterday (Nov 23), preventing 13 vendors from opening their food stalls still inside the building.
The council workers moved in at about 1:30pm, led by Patong Deputy Mayors Veerasak Kaminthong and Boonma Eibsap, and accompanied by military personnel and volunteers.
The workers set up metal barriers to seal off the area.
The move comes after all the leases issued to the vendors had expired, and after Patong Mayor Chalermluck Kebsup told vendors at a meeting at Provincial Hall on Nov 1 that it was likely “too late” for Patong Municipality to stop its plan from converting the Loma Food Centre into a “community building”. (See story here.)
At that same meeting, held after the vendors filed a complaint with the the Damrongdhama Centre (Ombudsman’s Office), Phuket Vice Governor Teera Anantaseriwidhya urged both parties to try to resolve the dispute without resorting to legal action.
“We want the Governor to investigate why Patong Municipality did not discuss this problem as directed in the meeting but instead they proceeded with tools to seal off the area from us,” former Loma Food Court vendor Wannee Kesakomol said today.
“Patong Municipality needs to resolve this problem. We want to be able to sell food in the area until both of us reach the agreement on this issue,” she added.
Patong Municipality Legal officer Somchai Netibumrung explained that officials were acting lawfully in sealing off the building as all the leases had expired.
“Our management policy is to use this area to be a new building for the public, for which the plans have already been approved,” he said.
“The last leases expired in October and we gave them 15 days notice to remove their belongings and vacate the premises,” Mr Somchai said.
“Yesterday their time was up, so officials came with tools to seal off the area. However, the work was halted after they demanded us to stop.”