Governor Norraphat Plodthong delivered his order for action at a meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday (April 19) held to address key issues affecting the island’s critical tourism industry.
“You must figure this out. Businesses are still releasing untreated wastewater; this means that officials must go out and check and striclty enforce the law,” Governor Norraphat said.
That message came while untreated wastewater is still flowing into Patong Bay, while a open pool of black wastewater remains on Surin Beach and after a canal in Rawai emptying into Chalong Bay started to run black again. (See story here.)
Looking towards next month, when the southwest monsoon and the annual heavy rains return, Gov Norraphat ordered officials to clear their respective areas of rubbish clogging roadside drains.
“Lots of rubbish gets stuck in the drains. Every official has to fix this in their area before the rains come, and this will help stop the problem of clogged drains causing floods across the roads,” he said.
Regarding overcrowding and other ongoing issues at Phuket International Airport, Gov Norraphat held out the hope that the completion of the ongoing renovations will solve problems there.
“Phuket airport is too busy because some areas are under renovation. This coupled with the increasing number of passengers using the airport is the main cause of the problems. After the renovations are finished, the problems will be solved,” he said.
Of note, airport officials at meeting yesterday said that the renovations would be complete by June.
Present at the meeting yesterday was Vice Governor Prakob Wongmaneerung and Phuket Chamber of Commerce President Surachai Chaiwat, for whom the order to clean up Phuket was much welcomed.
Mr Surachai was present when Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat publicly criticised the island’s infrastructure as inadequate and in need of addressing during a visit to Phuket in February. (See story here.)
Also present yesterday was Phuket Tourist Association (PTA) Vice President Sarayuth Mallam, who told The Phuket News today that while the goal of keeping Phuket clean was the main desire of all parties involved, a key obstacle was access to the budget required for officials to appropriately address the issues.
“Many people from all the different industries in Phuket joined this meeting to ask the Phuket Governor for help with these issues. One of the most important things to happen at the meeting was that the Governor was asked to request budgets that are realistic and suitable for what needs to be done to fix the problems.
“In the meeting, the Regional Environment Department Region 15 office and the Phuket office of the Environment Department asked for more budget to solve the cause of pollution from hotels and tourism businesses.
“These businesses release wastewater into public water sources, but these officials are not able to inspect each and every hotel here. They can only conduct random checks, and there are far too many hotels here for that to be effective,” he said.
“Other issues covered at the meeting included overcrowding at Phuket Airport and better traffic light management to help reduce traffic congestion,” Mr Sarayuth added.
“I do not have any recommendations for this Phuket Governor. He is leading the officials well and checks on their progress every three months. I have no complaints about how these issues are being handled at his level,” Mr Sarayuth said.
Additional reporting by Tanyaluk Sakoot