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Pattaya Daily News

26 April 2014 :: 16:04:56 pm 85012

Cash crunch holds up Phuket’s one-stop shop for yachts

PHUKET: Budgetary problems appear to be behind the teething problems of the Phuket Port Control Centre (PPCC) at the end of Chalong Pier.
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The PPCC is supposed to provide a one-stop service for visiting yachts entering or leaving Phuket’s waters, a streamlined, computer-efficient place where they can go through the Immigration, Customs and Marine Department processes.

But, The Phuket News has learned, the service is not working because of lack of funding to complete the online computer check-in system or for repairs to the storm-damaged pontoon where skippers are supposed to moor their boats for inspection, but can’t.

The PPCC was first set up onshore, but was moved this month to the round glass building close to the end of the pier.

A source who asked not to be named told The Phuket News explained, “Any boats that came into Phuket waters have to inform the Marine Department within 24 hours, otherwise they will be fined.”

They also have to go through Customs and Immigration procedures, including an inspection of the boat for contraband.

“Boat owners used to come with all the documents and fill in the forms for registering the boat.

“Now that the computer system has been introduced they should be able to fill in the forms in the website, so when they come to the PPCC they can just sign the papers and go.”

At the moment, however, they cannot do this. “The computers from the old centre were moved along the pier to the new location and the computer installment is still on going. The Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA) was hired to take care of setting up the system.”

But whoever allocated the budget for the move miscalculated. “The computer operation,” the source explained, “needs more budget to set up and run. The sooner the budget arrives, the better.”

There is another problem. A pontoon alongside the PPCC was one of a number damaged by storms more than two years ago.

Another source, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “The pontoon needs to be fixed. All the boats have to be checked by Customs but because they cannot come alongside, we have to use a dinghy to go out to where they are moored or anchored.

“We have to check at least 20 boats a day in the low season and 30 to 40 boats a day in the high season which caused us a lot of trouble.”

A budget of B57 million was allocated by the Marine Department to repair all the storm damage. That was two years ago but the repairs have still not been done.

Vice-Governor Sommai Preechasilpa told The Phuket News yesterday, “The OrBorJor , which owns the pier gets government support budget. What the budget is used for depends on which department it came from.”

The system is somewhat tangled. For example, the Marine Department paid for the PPCC building, but then transferred ownership to the Treasury Department, with the OrBorJor responsible for managing it. Fees from management are split 50-50 between the OrBorJor and the Marine Department.

V/Gov Sommai said that the delay in repairing the pontoons, however, had a much simpler explanation. “To fix the pontoons, we need to find the right contractor, and it takes time to find the right one.”

The computer system at the PPCC, it is hoped, should be up and running within a week. But until the right contractor can be found, Customs officers will still have to make multiple runs out into the bay to inspect visiting boats.

View the original story on The Phuket News

Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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