The canal, Klong Panieng, has long been a source of ire for the residents, with scores of homes and even factories in the area for years dumping untreated wastewater into the waterway.
Phuket City Municipality responded with a project to build three “wastewater treatment points”, literally nothing more than wastewater traps so waste can oxygenise and break down further before being emptied into the canal.
These wastewater traps are now causing problems of their own, residents argued yesterday.
Representing the residents and business owners, Vichat Trairat explained that even dust and noise from drilling while the construction was ongoing was bad enough, but worse was the odour still coming from the wastewater treatment points.
“And then there is the problem of mosquitoes, germs and sewage,” he added.
The problem was severely affecting shops, restaurants, companies, hospitals, tutoring schools and residences in the area, Mr Vichat said.
“People do not want to obstruct the project but we want it moved to another location, which does not affect people,” he explained.
He also claimed that local residents were not asked at a public meeting for their opinions on building the wastewater-treatment ponds, a which is required by law for all major construction projects.
In turn, the residents yesterday “only ask for fairness”, Mr Vichat said.
Phiphat Charoen, Director of Phuket Municipality Civil Works Division, who met the residents to receive their complaint, said that consultants hired found no other suitable location for the project, which is now being built under a budget of B30 million.
However, Mr Phiphat noted the residents’ complaint and said that the issue would be raised with the senior municipality figures in order to come up with a solution.
A meeting will be called at a later date to further discuss the problems with the residents, he added.
A HISTORY OF FILTH
The stench and health problems arising from the filthy canal stem back to 2013, when a base plan was mapped out to counter the raw sewage being emptied into Klong Panieng, which empties into Klong Bang Yai.
Klong Bang Yai, as Phuket’s longest canal, starts in Kathu and meanders through the heart of Phuket Town before emptying into Phuket Bay at Saphan Hin.
However, even back then it was recognised that the problems start further upstream in Rassada, where newly built housing estates created densely populated areas alongside factories and other businesses that use the canal for dumping untreated wastewater. (See story here.)
In 2015, Phuket Governor at the time Maitri Inthusut and Vice-Governor at the time Sommai Preechasilpa, along with Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (OrBorJor) President Paiboon Upatising (now deceased) attended a meeting, presided over by Rassada President Phudit Raksarat, at which plans to deal with polluted water flowing from the Soi Panieng area into Klong Bang Yai were discussed.
The complaints came after the dry weather slowed the water in the klong to a trickle, with stagnant pools rotting and sending waves of foul smells into homes and businesses in the Samkong area. (See story here.)
Later that same year, a video clip of the polluted water being released into the canal at Yaowarat Bridge in Samkong went viral along with a message to local authorities requesting they find the source of the water.
Phuket City Deputy Mayor at the time Thaworn Jirapattanasopon immediately after seeing the video ordered officials to investigate and collect a sample of the water.
“The water is as black as ink, but I can confirm that this foul water belongs to Rassada Municipality. It is not coming from the City Municipality,” he said.
“Rassada Municipality are releasing polluted water from Soi Panieng Moo 5 in Rassada into the Phuket City pipeline without treatment it. It then goes into Klong Bang Yai.
“This has once again caused great distress to local residents living in the area,” he added.
Mr Thaworn also noted, “Rassada Municipality does not have a wastewater treatment facility, so Phuket City Municipality has set aside B60 million from next year’s budget to this water pollution problem. Construction of the wastewater treatment facility will begin next year.
“Until the facility is completed, Phuket City Municipality is allowing Rassada Municipality to release its wastewater via the City Municipality pipe for the next five years so we can treat the water before it is released into the canal. This is a temporary solution until the facility is complete,” he concluded. (See story here.)
Regardless, the problems continued.
In 2017, Phuket Vice Governor at the time Teera Anantaseriwidhya ordered environment officials across the island to clean up their areas across Phuket and ordered to be updated on the project install wastewater-treatment facilities along the canal that runs through Samkong.
“The Provincial Trash and Wastewater Committee must solve these issues. It must take more effective action about all forms of waste disposal on the island,” V/Gov Teera said.
V/Gov Teera ordered every relevant government office to take steps to immediately address the island’s growing problems with garbage.
“These issues are serious and must be addressed urgently,” he said. (See story here.)
That order was issued on Jan 28 two years ago.