The move follows marketing survey, engineering and strategic planning consultancy LP Laikhum Co Ltd based in Bangkok quietly being awarded a B13 million contract by the Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor) to provide lifeguards at Phuket’s beaches.
LP Laikhum Co Ltd was awarded the contract on Feb 28, with the contract effective from Mar 1, but has yet to provide any lifeguards at Phuket beaches as it has yet to present to the PPAO for approval a list of the lifeguards who will work for them. (See story here.)
“These volunteers on Kamala Beach do not belong to LP Laikhum Co. We just explained to them that they do have not to stay on the beach (sic),” Col Santi Sakuntanark, Commander of the 25th Infantry Regiment in Phuket, told The Phuket News yesterday (Mar 13).
“It is necessary for LP Laikhum Co Ltd to show up and do their job. These volunteers have to give space for (LP Laikhum) to uphold their responsibility because the volunteers are not staff of this company,” he added.
Col Santi said he was aware that under the current circumstances no volunteers or lifeguards of any kind other than those provided by Laikhum Co Ltd were allowed to patrol any beaches in Phuket.
“Now, there are no lifeguards on any Phuket beaches,” he said.
“LP Laikhum has not taken any action to fulfil its obligations under the contract. I have no idea why they do not have their lifeguards on the beaches. I will go to talk with PPAO Acting Chief Watcharin Patomwatthanapong as soon as possible about having no lifeguards on the beaches.
“It is Mr Watcharin’s responsibility,” Col Santi said.
“Regardless, we did not chase the volunteers away. We explained the reason to them,” Col Santi added.
Asked when he would speak with Mr Watcharin, Col Santi said he was not sure.
“I have no idea what the PPAO plans to do if LP Laikhum cannot provide any lifeguards on the beaches. My understanding is that if LP Laikum cannot begin to fulfil its contractual obligations within 30 days (from Feb 28), the PPAO will have to offer the contract for bidding again,” he added.
Meanwhile, volunteers in Patong, Phuket’s busiest tourist beach, have confirmed that they no longer are allowed to provide any essential life-saving services.
Beach vendor Somprasong Saengchat, a former lifeguard of the Phuket Lifeguard Service (PLS) who has continued to work as a volunteer lifeguard at Patong Beach, told The Phuket News today (Mar 14),
“We (as PLS lifeguards) had to leave the beach because our contract terminated. Then me and other lifeguards continued to work as lifeguards under a contract with Patong Municipality.
“Now, LP Laikhum Co Ltd is responsible for providing lifeguards here, but there are no lifeguards staff currently patrolling Patong Beach.
“Regardless, in the meantime, myself and my friends are willing to help any people in danger (of drowning) at the beach. We will try to help tourists the best we can.” he said.
Attempts by The Phuket News to contact PPAO Acting Chief Mr Watcharin for an explanation have been fruitless. Mr Watcharin has been consistently unavailable, and has yet to respond to any requests for comment.