“The PPAO can provide Phuket lifeguards ourselves. We do not need Phuket Lifeguard Service Co Ltd anymore,” PPAO Council President Teera Jiasakun told a meeting of his organisation’s council on October 27, adding, “We will do it by ourselves… we will do this and manage everything on time on Oct 1.” (See story here.)
Since that tough talk last week, Mr Teera has disappeared from sight and left local OrBorJor officials and Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong to pick up the pieces from his bloody-mindedness in the contract negotiations with the Phuket Lifeguard Service (PLS).
The PLS has refused to sign the contract proffered by the PPAO that would see its funding frozen at the same level despite it being called on to extend patrol times, expand patrol areas and the need to update dilapidated infrastructure and equipment. (See story here)
To his credit Gov Norraphat has been doing his utmost to help organise some semblance of safety patrols on the island’s popular tourist beaches. But it is already becoming clear that this motley crew of Navy personnel, Civil Defence volunteers and a handful of actual lifeguards hired as a stop-gap measure are unable to provide an adequate level of safety. (See story here)
As if to highlight the appalling negligence and lack of concern shown by the PPAO, it has recently been announced that a team of foreign volunteer lifeguards are on their way to Phuket to carry out free internationally-certified training courses for Phuket’s lifeguards and other involved in tourist safety.
Such a generous effort by these volunteers would not be needed in the first place if the contract on offer to the PLS had adequately reflected the costs inherent in adequately training lifeguards. (See story here)
The Phuket News calls on the PPAO to return to the negotiating table with the PLS and find a compromise that enables qualified, experienced lifeguards to remain on Phuket’s beaches and to be adequately compensated, trained and equipped.
Otherwise the blood of every swimmer that drowns on the currently poorly patrolled beaches will be on the PPAO’s hands.