Wirot Damkong confirmed the news this week after being presented with photos and even a video showing the practice is ongoing – despite his confirmation last week that the driver of a properly constructed fuel truck had been arrested for ignoring an order and continuing to refuel speedboats on the Rawai beachfront.
“Dispensing fuel directly from a fuel truck or from large plastic tanks or containers is illegal,” Mr Wirot said.
He explained that, in terms of the law, it was an issue of volume.
“The volume of each of the drums (seen in the photos and video) contains only 200 litres, but the truck can contain much more fuel, and hence and presents a much greater danger if it catches alight,” he said.
“But these steel drums are allowed. Now we are looking into how many of those drums can carried in the one vehicle at the same time.”
Asked how many drums of fuel is the limit, and especially in the back of a songthaew and restrained by a single rope, as seen in the video, Mr Wirot declined to answer. “We are looking into that,” he said.
Regarding Mr Wikrom’s assurance last week that the driver of the fuel truck photographed repeatedly carrying out the beachfront refuelling despite an order to stop had been arrested (see story here), Mr Wikrom this week declined to comment.
Meanwhile, Pannee Raknai, Chief Administrative Officer (Palad) and Chief of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation division at Rawai Municipality (DDPM-Rawai) has yet to respond to queries from The Phuket News this week about the ongoing practice.
Ms Pannee has consistently claimed that her office is powerless over the issue unless there is an environmental concern, despite the obvious public safety issue involved.
Rawai Mayor Aroon Solos this week did respond to questions from The Phuket News.
“The Phuket Energy office has informed Rawai Municipality of this,” he said.
“We will stress to the refeulling operators to not refuel speedboats when there are tourists around,” Mayor Aroon noted.
“I have informed them to use pickup trucks to make sure they are not carrying too many fuel drums at the same time until it is figured out how this can be done legally – and safely,” he added.