Thada Wannapruk, Director of the Channel Development and Maintenance Bureau Region 3 of the Marine Department, explained the delay in the dredging during an inspection of the canal by Deputy Minister of Transport Athirat Rattanaset on Saturday (Oct 31).
Also present to welcome and inform Mr Athirat about the canal and its use, usually with many tour boats and yachts using the canal during the tourism high season, were Phuket Marine Office Director Wiwat Chitchertwong and other officials, along with representatives from the local marinas.
“We will work on dredging the ‘outer’ part of the channel, which was about 3.5 kilometres long, in the middle of 2022, after the dredging project of the Sapam Canal has finished,” Mr Thada explained.
“We have already asked for a budget of B6.9 million to be spent on dredging the ‘inner’ part of the channel, which is about 1.5km long, but the request was not approved.
“We will ask for the budget again in the next fiscal year,” Mr Thada added, meaning that dredging of the “inner” 1.5km of the canal cannot begin until at least 2023.
“When the dredging is done, the channel will be safer for any vessels to come in and out along the canal, and it will create work and income for a lot of local people,” Mr Thada said.
Mr Athirat explained that tourism business operators have to present problems, and especially include the expected budget needed, to the Phuket Tourist Association – not a government agency – so that his office can report the problems to the Cabinet.
To follow the 20-Year National Strategy, the budget is necessary to build the potential competitiveness for Phuket to be the ‘marina hub’ of Asean, Mr Athirat said.