The news was announced quietly through a public notice posted on the PPAO website on Feb 28 that was signed by PPAO Acting Chief Watcharin Patomwattanapong.
So quiet was the news that even Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong only yesterday (Mar 8) at a meeting at Provincial Hall ordered the PPAO to take steps to rectify the lack of lifeguards at Phuket’s beaches.
The report of that meeting posted by the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department did not even mention whether it was brought to the Governor’s attention that the PPAO had already offered – and awarded – the contract.
The news of the awarded lifeguard contract flies in the face of Governor Norraphat on Dec 12 – fed up and angered by the lack of responsibility shown by the PPAO in resolving the lifeguard crisis last year – making the unilateral decision to end the crisis by handing the responsibility of providing lifeguards to the local municipalities and Tambon Administration Organisations (OrBorTor). (See story here.)
The new contract became effective last Thursday (Mar 1) and mandates that the Bangkok-based consultancy, LP Laikhum Co Ltd, must have lifeguards on patrol from Mar 1 until Sept 30.
Yet even that requirement has fallen by the wayside, with no lifeguards provided under the contract on Phuket’s beaches.
Under the contract, LP Laikhum Co Ltd is 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 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).
Attempts by The Phuket News to contact PPAO Acting Chief Mr Watcharin for an explanation of why the contract was even offered failed.
However, The Phuket News was directed to another official who was involved, but refused to be named.
“The are no lifeguards from LP Laikhum Co Ltd on the beaches yet as the company must first submit a list of names of the lifeguards who will be hired by them as this is a requirement of the contract,” the official said.
“The company must provide 98 lifeguards in total and the list of lifeguards’ names must be approved by the OrBorJor (PPAO) before the lifeguards can start patrolling the beaches – but there will definitely be lifeguards on the beaches within this month.”
Additional reporting by Pakin Intarat