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Phuket Opinion: Patong, you’re swimming in it

PHUKET: Full praise to Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) Permanent Secretary Dr Wijarn Simachaya for blasting point-blank at the heart of the issue of raw sewage flowing into Patong Bay this week – exposing thousands of tourists to potential infection from a toxic cocktail of faeces and whatever else is dumped into the Pak Bang Canal in Phuket’s busiest tourism town.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 18 February 2018, 09:00AM

Workers start laying out hoses in order to pump the beachwater balckend by sewage off Tri Trang Beach. Photo: Patong Municipality

Workers start laying out hoses in order to pump the beachwater balckend by sewage off Tri Trang Beach. Photo: Patong Municipality

Illegal hotels are responsible for the issue and he wants the hotels responsible to be found. Period.

For years Patong and Phuket health officials have tried in vain to publicly dodge the problem with froth and bubble “admissions” that the plankton blooms in Patong Bay have been “naturally occurring” events resulting from elevated counts of phosphorus and nitrogen – as if the average tourist does not know what the main chemical breakdown components of raw sewage is. Yes, they know, every time they flush the toilet.

Announcements in the past that environmental officials are monitoring beach water quality anywhere along the Phuket coast, never mind at the island’s most revenue-generating beach, have failed to convince anyone that the readings presented were genuine.

Worse, when the water-monitoring campaign was launched, at the time under one of the most circumspect governors ever to grace this island, having the results made public was a battle. Why would anyone trust a source that does not want you to have full access to their findings? And this no less from a regional government department that is supposedly entrusted with protecting the environment.

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Yet Dr Wijarn brings a ray of hope to Phuket in that the true offenders might finally be brought to task. We understand that the issue is massive, and recognise the breakneck pace of development in Patong over the past two decades will not be remedied overnight.

But if you don’t make a start, you will never finish.

It’s high time officials stop trying to save face over an issue that has plagued every high-volume tourism destination in the world. Phuket is not – and has never – suffered any problems that have not been successfully overcome elsewhere in the world.

If we are – or want to be – a genuine “world-class tourism destination”, then let’s start learning from the best before we allow more damage to be caused to ourselves, to tourists and to the almighty revenue that tourism brings.



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BigA | 19 February 2018 - 06:11:56

I bet a 100 $ this will be the same the next year also! Anyone?


Discover Thainess | 18 February 2018 - 11:25:32

Excellent article. Along with traffic, Maya Bay & marine life damage; and all the other infrastructure issues, this is a direct result of TAT’s desire for high volume, cheaply priced, mass market tourism. Everyone knew this would be the outcome.  Now it’s time for all those billions made in profit to be invested in damage repair, rather than just new flash cars & watches.

Xonax | 18 February 2018 - 10:45:55

Independant tests of the water quality should be posted daily on every beach.

BenPendejo | 18 February 2018 - 10:24:36

Thank you PN for cutting to the chase. This problem is not only a Patong problem, but is a Phuket problem. Anyone wanting to swim at the south ends of Kamala or BangTao will also be unknowingly swimming in foul water, and "do nothing" officials in both areas continue to turn a blind eye to it, and actually continue to exacerbate it by allowing unchecked development, especially in Kamala.

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