The group, representing 73 vendors angry over their predicament, all operate stalls at the market, located opposite Loch Palm Golf Club in Kathu.
The vendors gathered at the Kathu District Office at 2:30pm today after their appeals to the Phuket Consumer Protection office and the Damrongdhama Centre (Ombudsman’s Office) were turned down.
“I want my money back,” said Parichat Ruenrak, 24, who operates a small food stall at the market.
“Then I want to cancel the contract and find somewhere else. We all want our money back,” she said.
“Phuket Floating Market is a dream. Anucha Voranetiwong told us that a lot of tourists, especially Chinese, would be coming to the market, but there have been very few tourists since the market opened – and that has had a direct effect on our incomes,” she added.
Ms Parichat explained that she signed a contract to occupy and open her stall at the market, and started paying rent for her stall, in November last year.
“But we could not move in and open until the market opened. The opening was pushed back time and again – more than seven times,” Ms Parichat said.
The market finally opened to much fanfare on May 18, with Phuket Vice Governor Khajornkiet Rakpanichmanee presiding over the opening ceremony, which was also attended by Kathu Mayor Chaianan Suthikul. (See story here.)
However, Ms Parichat – and her 72 fellow stall holders – under the rental agreement they each signed now face a fine of B3,000 per day if they do not open their stalls.
“Many people have filed complaints to the Damrongdhama Centre about the Phuket Floating Market, that the market is not attracting the number of tourists like we were told – and as promoted before the market opened – but there has not been any response from officials,” Ms Parichat told The Phuket News.
“I invested B500,000 with my partner, that includes everything. Other people have spent a lot of money, also. I am really in trouble,” she said.
Many of the vendors The Phuket News spoke with said they faced the same predicament – they could not close their stalls to save money as they faced the same B3,000 a day fine.
Kathu District Chief Sayan Chanachaiwong promised to review the vendors’ predicament. “I will receive your complaint, then I will call the owner of the Floating Market to come and talk with me and clear this up.”
However, he added, “Much of this also depends on the contract, what it says and what is stipulated as agreed.”
The Phuket News today tracked down Anucha Voranetiwong, General Manager of P. R.A. Solution Co, which operates Phuket Floating Market.
Asked for his response to the vendors’ plight, he said, “Whatever they complain about is their problem. We must abide by the contract.”
Asked whether he would meet with the aggrieved vendors to discuss their situation, Mr Anucha said, “I will send my representative to cover.”
Then he walked away.