But now it has emerged that the other halves of the beach clubs, restaurants and bars, on the east side of the path, may also have to go.
A worried Ma’an Samran, Chief Executive of Cherng Talay Tambon Administration Organisation (OrBorTor), today (June 18) admitted to The Phuket News this morning (June 18) that there is a definite possibility that the buildings along the path, which belong to the OrBorTor, will have to be ripped down soon.
“It will probably happen. From a provincial government meeting yesterday (June 17), it appears that the province has an agenda to get rid of everything along Surin Beach. At the meeting the commander of Cherng Talay Police [Col Paworn Pornpromma] said that the Army wanted to remove it all.”
Mr Maan said that the rationale and the legal explanation would be revealed soon.
“The possibility is high. I checked the response of local residents, and they are okay with it, though there might be a problem because tourists still want to sit and eat and drink there.
“The business people are [definitely] not going to agree with this. That’s another problem.”
Mr Maan explained that the the structures along the east side of the path were originally built by the OrBorTor after the 2004 Asia Tsunami,, as housing for people who had lost their homes.
Since then, however, the structures had changed hands many times and none were now dwellings; all were occupied by businesses.
“The OrBorTor charged no rent [at the beginning]; we just allowed local people to live there. But later they sold their [right to occupy the] places until the places become something else entirely.”
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a lawyer who has worked on public land issues explained to The Phuket News that although Cherng Talay OrBorTor manages the land on the east side of the path, it does not own it. The land belongs to the state; like the strip along the beach it is public land.
If the OrBorTor’s original aim after the tsunami was to help local people in distress that would be legitimate (provided the relevant permits were obtained).
But the occupants never owned the buildings and could not legally sell, rent, or assign their occupation rights to anyone else.
Mr Maan also added that the province (with the Army in the background) does not want to see beach chairs on public land anymore.
“There will be no beach chairs or beach beds in the future [along Surin Beach].”