The lifeguards presented themselves to Governor Norraphat Plodthong at the car park at Surin Beach at 9am, accompanied by Dr Nutpol Sirisawang, Managing Director of the lifeguards’ employer, LP Laikhum Co Ltd.
Bangkok-based consultancy LP Laikhum Co Ltd in February was quietly awarded a government contract offered by the Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor) to provide 98 lifeguards to patrol Phuket beaches from Mar 1.
Under that contract, LP Laikhum Co Ltd was to be granted:
• B4.68mn in funding to provide lifeguards and lifesaving equipment at beaches in Muang District (including Kata-Karon and Nai Harn);
• B4.745mn for providing lifeguards at beaches in Thalang District (from Surin Beach northwards, including Layan, Leypang,Nai Thon and Nai Yang beaches);
• and a further B3.807mn to provide essential lifeguard services in Kathu District (including Patong and Kamala).
The exact total amount of that contract was B13.232 million. (See story here.)
However, without even recognising that LP Laikhum had failed to uphold the terms of the contract by not having lifeguards on the beaches by Mar 1, Dr Nutpol today spoke as if the previous contract was no longer relevant – a fact that might be true, though both Dr Nutpol and Governor Norraphat failed to mention it this morning.
“Today is the first full showing as ‘encouraged’ by the Phuket Governor. We started patrols on April 1 at Surin, Nai Thon, Mai Khao and Bang Tao beaches,” Dr Nutpol said proudly.
Incredibly, he added, “Other beach areas such as Patong Nai Harn, Kata and Karon beaches, are not in our duty to work.”
Governor Norraphat today blankly supported that understanding.
“The Phuket OrBorJor (PPAO) just made an official contract with LP Laikhum Co Ltd today (April 5),” Gov Norraphat said.
“Internal management by the Phuket OrBorJor is complicated, which resulted in a gap (in providing lifeguards on Phuket’s beaches) in March this year,” he added.
“Some beaches, including those in Patong and Karon municipal areas, will find their own lifeguard teams by themselves because they demand to manage themselves,” Governor Norraphat said.
However, Gov Norraphat’s own statements today flew in the face of his own order on Dec 12, when he ordered the PPAO to no longer be involved in organising lifeguards for Phuket.
The matter was to be left to local administrations and municipalities to deal with. (See story here.)
No explanation was given for the now “new” understanding of how lifeguards are to be provided on the beaches, including how much LP Laikhum is to be paid to provide the 27 lifeguards to partol the northern beaches only.
Meanwhile, the original posting of the B13mn contract awarded in February is no longer posted on Thai Government Procurement website, which as required by law publishes all government contracts awarded in the country. Instead, the link to where the contract used to be posted now produces the message, “Not Found.” (See here.)
Dr Nutpol brimmed with confidence this morning.
“I operate this company, our base is in Bangkok. I am confident in improving how lifeguards in Phuket are managed, as we did about 10 years ago,” he said.
“Also our company is joining with some Phuket people and a well-known security company.” he added. However, Dr Nutpol failed to identify which security company was so important to mention, and failed to explain what relevance the security company had when it came to surf rescues.
Dr Nutpol denied that his lifeguards were poorly trained.
“On every patrol, we have lifeguards who have experience in ocean rescues in the Andaman region. They are not just experienced in swimming pools, as others have said,” he claimed.
“Our lifeguards’ certificates have been issued by The Royal Life Saving Society Canada. They have completed the life saving instructor course conducted by Thai Life Saving Club Surf lifesaving trainer through a course organised by the Phuket OrBorJor,” Dr Nutpol added.
However, he also said, “Some of our lifeguards are new, so they will need more training.”
“We are just starting. Don’t judge us too fast,” Dr Nutpol said.
“Please look up what we can provide and work in Phuket province. We will show our ability, which is better equipment to manage safety (through the use of equipment) such as drones, ATVs, jet-skis and other (items).”