Collecting garbage is about as simple as a function gets for a local administration, and yet so many in Phuket fail to be able to do it. With Chalong Pier, it is not even a local administration entrusted with this fees-paid-for task – it is the Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor), the administration technically responsible for overseeing key local government operations across the island where local administrations are unable to or do not have the resources to perform their duties.
Keep in mind that the PPAO fought for the right to operate Chalong Pier when it officially opened in 2001. We could have guessed it might have been about the money, especially after a private operator had its concession to operate the pier revoked after allegations of charging boat owners B2,000 a month instead of B100 overnight for mooring fees – if receiving a receipt wasn’t an issue.
Yet even when the pier opened the PPAO President at the time, Wisut Santikun, pointed out that the annual cost of running the pier was expected to be about B3 million, while revenue was expected to be about B4mn. Part of the million-baht surplus was to be used for renovation of the pier.
With that much surplus even at the outset, it begs the question where does the money go?
Also let’s remember that the PPAO collects a room rate tax of 1% of rates charged of every room on the island rented out to tourists. That tax was introduced on the condition that the PPAO funds the provision of lifeguards at Phuket’s key tourism beaches. But that responsibility no longer rests with the PPAO. It was removed from their clutches by former Governor Norraphat Plodthong in his final order to “resolve” the lifeguard crisis as the PPAO had repeatedly failed to do so. And now we have no idea where the B20mn a year that was spent on lifeguards goes.
Apparently it all just disappears into the PPAO’s annual budgeting, which is seemingly not enough to ensure garbage is collected at a key Phuket tourism facility where thousands of tourists each day get to see firsthand exactly how good the PPAO is at carrying out one of the most basic local government functions. Go figure.