The move follows 47 Chinese tourists being killed in the Phoenix tour boat disaster on July 5, which spurred a raft of safety provisions and a call by Tourism Minister Weerasak Kowsurat to request a budget of B508 million to roll out the ‘Phuket Marine Safety Plan’. (See story here.)
Governor Norraphat last month confirmed that teams of officials already had been dedicated to carrying out inspections at 24 busy tour-boat piers on the island.
However, this morning he railed that the safety provisions at the 24 piers were still not being enforced.
Governor Norraphat this morning ordered the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Phuket office (DDPM-Phuket) to “immediately” draft a standard form for officials at piers to use when confirming the exact number and identities of all passengers boarding boats departing Phuket, as well as their seat number and passport number.
“Only after this information has been verified will passengers be allowed to board the boats,” Gov Norraphat said.
“I want these passenger manifest reports started immediately. I give you seven days to make it work… and I want to know the details of the reports, too,” he added.
The Governor also ordered for tour boats to be inspected every three months, but by random inspections.
“These inspections must be conducted randomly, and without warning. Seriously, they must be done with no people being told they are about to be inspected,” he cautioned.
Gov Norraphat also raised the issue of creating a hotline specifically for marine emergencies.
“I am planning to set up an emergency line for people in case of an emergency involving marine transportation,” he said.
However, it was not mentioned what role the other already-existing hotlines will play if a ‘marine emergency hotline’ is established.
The Marine Department itself already lists on its website home page “HOTLINE 1155”, which directs calls to the Tourist Police hotline, and its own “HELPLINE 1111”. Both hotlines are 24 hours.
In addition, the Royal Thai Police already operates its 191 national hotline to receive calls for any emergency, and the DDPM operates its own 24-hour hotline 1784 for any persons in danger in need of assistance.
Governor Norraphat also warned any tour-boat piers not among the 24 currently under supervision to follow the law.
“The Phuket Marine Office must go and inspect them and catch them if they are breaking any laws. These piers also must follow the law,” he said.
Bizarrely, the Governor also warned all from tour boats operating without a radio, as if there are tour boats carrying tourists that are known to be operating without a radio on board.
“Officials from the Phuket Marine office will go to see them and tell them to set up radio,” was the sternest message he had for such a distressing transgression of marine safety requirements.