Phuket Vice Governor Supoj Rotreuang Na Nongkhai, and Prapan Kanprasang, Chief of the Phuket provincial office of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM-Phuket) both called for the government to approve the B50mn plan at meeting held at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday afternoon (Aug 8) held to review details of the Lady D superyacht fire on Wednesday.
The Lady D caught fire Wednesday morning, with the blaze quickly growing out of control. The 55-metre superyacht was towed away from other boats moored at Ao Po Grand Marina for safety as it was carrying a large volume of fuel on board. (See story here.)
Firefighters did their best to continue to douse the blaze, but to no avail. The yacht burned through the night and was finally moved of just off Koh Thanan, off Phuket’s east coast, where it remains. (See story here.)
The extent of damage to the superyacht, which was gutted by the fire, has yet to be revealed.
Also present at the meeting yesterday were Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command Deputy Commander R/Adm Withonrat Kotchasenee, Thalang Police Chief Col Theerawat Liamsuwan and other relevant officials
“The obvious weakness is that we don’t have fire boats while there are almost 10,000 boats in our province,” V/ Gov Supoj said.
“The government is negotiating with the Budget Bureau. I hope they understand the situation right now. Even though we have the Third Naval Area Command, it is not enough. We have asked for two fire boats, together costing around B50mn, which has not been approved yet,” V/Gov Supoj added.
“Phuket has to create a good image and trust of safety among local residents and tourists. Phuket generates around B400 billion a year, and is considered the second-highest revenue generating province in Thailand, so we ask them (the central government) to consider the necessity of having fire boats,” V/Gov Supoj said.
DDPM-Phuket Chief Mr Prapan also explained, “Following the inking of the Phoenix tour boat in July last year, killing 47 Chinese tourists, the central government ordered us to be ready to provide emergency assistance to tourists, leading to some changes of our yearly budget for fiscal 2019.
“We drew up a plan to have tourist assistance centers around Phuket, including at Chalong Bay and Ao Po, as well as at Cheng Talay-Bang Tao and Patong.
“The plan included have a fire boat and medical boat at each marina (of the four locales given),” Mr Prapan said.
“We filed to ask for a budget of around B50mn, but Budget Bureau has not approved it yet,” he added.
In the wake of the Phoenix disaster last, Tourism and Sports Minister at the time, Weerasak Kowsurat, requested the central government spend B508 million on creating and developing a comprehensive marine safety centre, complete with emergency-response equipment. (See story here.)
The plan was proposed to the Cabinet at a mobile Cabinet meeting in Ranong on Aug 20 last year, both was never heard of again.
Mr Weerasak’s B508mn proposal followed Governor Norraphat proposing a special request to the mobile Cabinet meeting for an additional ‘emergency budget’ of B108.2 million to improve marine safety in Phuket and the facilities at Chalong Pier. (See story here.)
The plan was also never heard of again.