Why you might ask? Well, because at lunchtime today, after hearing the jack-hammering of a construction crew a few doors down, a friendly announcement from our venerable electricity supplier blared out of a passing pick up truck’s loudspeakers. The announcement was something to the effect of, “Your power will be out tomorrow from 9am until 4pm.”
It makes one wonder how long the boffins at the electricity company have been planning this little bit of work. Did they just wake up this morning and proclaim, “Tomorrow we are going to install those new power lines in Kathu.” It certainly seems like this must be the case, otherwise, surely they would have given businesses affected by the outage several days, if not weeks, to prepare? Almost the exact same thing happened not two weeks ago with our internet provider.
With these examples to go on, one can only take with a rather large grain of salt announcements about Phuket being tapped on the shoulder to be the next regional “Smart City”. What international IT company is going to be beating a path to our island’s door to set up their next regional hub if such un-notified outages of essential services are a routine occurrence?
Year after year The Phuket News reports on water shortages in the dry season, attempts to cut lifeguard funding and government construction projects going years over budget. And year after year we hear whimsical proclamations of new infrastructure projects and creating “Smart Cities”. Do these officials even live on the same island as us? Do they not see that even the very basic existing infrastructure of the island is woefully inadequate to deal with our ever-expanding urban footprint and population increase?
We need to encourage our government to get back to basics, to put a moratorium on building new condos, hotels and housing developments. Then look closely at the existing infrastructure of the island and start planning for the future.
It seems this kind of thinking should be native to island communities, who can see only too well the limited space and resources they have to exploit. Sadly, the idea of rationally planning for the future and laying the groundwork for future success is all but absent from Phuket.