The saga has taken a series of ridiculous twists and turns since the Phuket Lifeguard Service Co Ltd last year refused to apply for the annual contract offered by the Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor) in protest of the lack of funds provided.
The PPAO’s initial failure to provide lifeguards – a role it took on when launching its 1% room rate tax on all hotel rooms more than a decade ago – forced Governor Norraphat Plodthong to step in on Dec 12 and order that local municipalities and Tambon Administration Organisations (OrBorTor) take on the responsibility of providing lifeguards themselves, for their own beaches. (See story here.)
The Governor had little choice: tourists were still drowning at the beaches, and while waiting for lifeguards to arrive good-willed officials started to patrol the beaches, risking their own lives, with several of the wretched souls themselves having to be rescued by surfers and other beach-going regulars.
The Governor’s unilateral decision to take the management of Phuket’s lifeguards out of the PPAO’s hands was a much-welcomed move as many of the local government bodies responsible for several key beaches on Phuket’s west coast, including Patong, Nai Harn, Kamala, Surin and Bang Tao, had already voiced their willingness to do the job themselves. (See story here.)
Fast-forward to Mar 1 this year, and the news breaks that despite the Governor’s clear order for the PPAO to no longer assert itself in matters involving lifeguards, the PPAO goes right ahead and offers a a B13 million government contract for a private company to provide lifeguards at Phuket’s beaches.
The powers that be quietly awarded that contract to – of all things – a Bangkok-based marketing survey, engineering and strategic planning consultancy trading under the name LP Laikhum Co Ltd.
The new contract became effective Mar 1 and mandates that LP Laikhum Co Ltd must have lifeguards on patrol at Phuket’s beaches from Mar 1 until Sept 30 this year.
It is not yet clear whether the move had the Governor’s blessing. However, LP Laikhum Co Ltd is already in troubled waters as the company has yet to provide any lifeguards, a fact that has already proved a breach of its contract. (See story here.)
Rubbing salt into the wounds of those who had worked for years as lifeguards, the Army last week cleared volunteer lifeguards from Kamala Beach. (See story here.)
To all this The Phuket News asks the simple question, “How should Phuket’s lifeguards be provided?”
Responses available in the poll are:
- Local government offices should organise and pay for their own lifeguards for their own beaches
- The PPAO should provide lifeguards for all Phuket beaches under a provincial budget
- Local government offices should organise to have their own lifeguards for their own beaches - but under a budget fully funded by the central government
- A provincial office of a national government department - such as the DDPM or the Governor's Office - should organise having lifeguards at all beaches in Phuket - fully paid for under a budget provided by the central government
To vote in the poll, click here.
If your preferred response is not available, feel free to add it in the comments below.
To see the results of our previous poll “Should Thailand build the Kra Canal?”, click here.