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Phuket Opinion: Flushing Phuket’s waste woes

Phuket Opinion: Flushing Phuket’s waste woes

PHUKET: With just weeks to go before enough flights resume for Phuket to start seeing a greater increase in the number of tourists visiting the island, the current spate of heavy weather has exposed a now traditional blight: trash.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 16 October 2022, 09:00AM

Deluges of trash continue to plague canals in Phuket Town. Photo: Phuket City Municipality

Deluges of trash continue to plague canals in Phuket Town. Photo: Phuket City Municipality

Heavy downpours since Thursday have continued to soak the island, and continue to highlight how much trash is still strewn along streets and in our waterways.

The torrential downpour on Thursday night saw the streets of Patong deep in floodwater, despite ongoing efforts by Patong Municipality over the past year to improve the drains network throughout the town. The culprit? Trash blocking the grates over the drains, preventing maximum flow of the deluge into pipes below.

Meanwhile over in Phuket Town workers were left to clear masses of flotsam floating in canals, causing problems of its own, with plastic waste a major factor.

The downpours in recent days have been heavier than usual, but not so unusual for October, traditionally the ‘last blast’ of the rainy season before the weather starts to clear to usher in what once used to be the tourism high season.

Trash covering the drain grates in Patong speaks for itself, in a town that is still one of the best known and most widely promoted as the key tourist town on the island. Whatever ‘Keep Patong Clean’ campaigns have been conducted there have failed.

The trash in the canals in Phuket Town comes with an extra bite. Only in July this year did Phuket City Mayor Saroj Angkanapilas fire a warning shot, urging local residents to stop dumping trash into the canals.

In both cases, no one paid any attention.

Laguna Phuket

What both cases have in common is that there has been no change in attitude towards dumping trash and littering. Further, there have been no noticeable behaviour-changing consequences for people caught.

In the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials and ‘Royal Volunteers’ were happy to lead the way, holding mass cleanup after cleanup, all widely publicised across government websites and social media channels.

So far the effect has exactly what could be expected. While well-meaning people continue to clean up after others, it appears to have only reinforced the attitude, ‘Why bother changing when other people are still cleaning up after me?’

However, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is now fining people dumping in canals in the capital, and even offering a reward to those whose reports lead to fines against transgressors.

The BMA now understands that without consequences for people’s aberrant behaviour, the behaviour does not change.

When will Phuket learn?

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Fascinated | 17 October 2022 - 09:31:17

A lot of the flooding on the main drag in Kamala would have been alleviated if the drains were clear. I must have reached in by hand and pulled trash and concrete out of 4 of them. If they had been clear the volume of water would not have been so great as it would not have built up to the extent it did.

Kurt | 17 October 2022 - 07:01:10

Singapore has trash bins all over. And they empty them! S'pore has significant altitude differences, and there they made clever use of it in designing/developing a good watermanagement system. With a lot of open, not concreted space, with large flood water canals/reservoirs. Which, of course, are well taken care off/maintained.

Capricornball | 16 October 2022 - 22:02:31

Maybe they need to dovetail the issues, traffic violators and litterers should be required to do 40 hours of community service, cleaning the streets and canals of trash. Also, if you want to see trash-filled streets, go look at the tuktuk and taxi queues in Patong. They don't care about anything. Thailand is way far behind the rest of the modern world in terms of trash management.

Capricornball | 16 October 2022 - 21:58:44

It is the result of empty program by officials, just telling other worthless officials to do something, but they haven't a clue what to do. Like the old hat traffic safety campaigns, Thais pay no attention, and they know there are never consequences for ignoring rules and laws. Children grow up not caring about right and wrong, and their parents are primarily to blame.

maverick | 16 October 2022 - 18:18:20

You reap what you sow

SEC2 | 16 October 2022 - 15:21:09

cheez | 16 October 2022 - 11:45:48

Do what Singapore does.

Which is what?  Hang people that litter?

SEC2 | 16 October 2022 - 13:28:10

Good piece. #1. I never see any public trash cans.  Even at Central Festival it is hard to find a trash can. Put in public trash cans and empty them every day or so.  #2. Start now educating people with an aggressive public campaign and in 20 years the young generation will take over and the problem will be reduced. It doesn't happen overnight. Start with the children. Adults are too far gone.

cheez | 16 October 2022 - 11:45:48

Do what Singapore does.

Prab | 16 October 2022 - 11:34:20

Patong municipality efforts?? what have they done in the last 2 years a part from pumping money on their own businesses or bank account?? 2 years of non work and this is the result.. .. it is easy to see who is driving a cayenne in patong and who is suffering this mess.. bunch of greedy....

christysweet | 16 October 2022 - 10:26:55

I use to pick up trash off the beach but no more. Let Thailand  suffer the consequence of its collective  callousness. 

JohnC | 16 October 2022 - 09:09:48

To define much more accurately. When will Phuket Thai people learn? 99 times out of every 100 it is local people that have no regard for what state this island is in. Just throw that food wrapper away and it's no longer my problem to deal with. No improvement in attitude at all in the more than 25 years I've lived here. So sad for this country...


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