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Pattaya Daily News

22 October 2012 :: 15:10:14 pm 67740

Unsafe Koh Samet Bridge Being Shut Down

Rayong residents and tourism businesses to Koh Samet island may be hurting from the abrupt November 1 closing of the Koh Samet port bridge for safety reasons. Construction of a replacement bridge was stalled because the builders lacked required permits.
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PATTAYA – October 21, 2012[Pattaya Daily News]; the impending closure of the Koh Samet port bridge was announced by Mr. Piya Pitudecha, the Lord Mayor of Rayong Provincial Administration Organization, who with staff officers went to inspect the Koh Samet port bridge at Tambon Pae, Amphur Muang, Rayong province.

The Lord Mayor found that there were a lot of Thai and foreign tourists who had come to travel and stay at Koh Samet because it was during the holidays and the school break. Numerous boats were picking up tourists, along with fishing boats, speedboats and merchandise boats operating between the island and the shore.

But all the boats were rotating to park at the old Koh Samet bridge that has deteriorated badly. The Lord Mayor inspected both the old Koh Samet port bridge, as well as the new one under construction with a budget of 170 million THB.

The problem occurred after it was decided that the new bridge’s construction could not continue, after an inspection Mr. Arkom Namkham, an official with the Khao Laem Ya National Park-Koh Samet. Mr. Arkom is the technical specialist of forestry and the head of Khao Laem Ya national park and Koh Samet district.

During his inspection of the new bridge site, Mr. Arkhom found that the builder had not gotten a legal building permit or had a required environmental impact study done, so he could not allow construction to continue.

The builder, Baan Khai Phra Nakorn Co., Ltd., number KP. 15/2554 dated September 11, 2010, was operating in partnership with the Rayong Provincial Administration Organization.

However, Mr. Arkhoom found that the builder had not done a preliminary step of filing an Environmental Assessment study with Rayong officials. Or the builder should at least have done a study of the project’s impact to the environment (EE), in order for the Khao Laem Ya national park-Koh Samet office to present the EE document to the National Park department, which has the authority to grant permission for the project.

Thus, construction on the new bridge had to be stopped immediately. So Mr. Akhom would like to announce to the tourists and residents that he could not allow the project to move forward until the legal requirements are fulfilled.

Up to now, the authorities were allowing the merchandise boats, tourists boats and fishing boats to keep parking in the old port, in order to maintain the existing businesses and the people’s way of life.

But now the old bridge has deteriorated too much, and it will be too dangerous to allow the public to use the bridge further, and endanger people’s lives and property for both Thai and foreign tourists. Any accidents will also create a bad reputation for the safety of Thailand’s tourism, he added.

Ultimately, the government is responsible for the safety of people and any damages from accidents, he said, so the Rayong Provincial Administration Organization must be responsible if there is problems occur.

So authorities need to get rid of potential problems by announcing the permanent closing of the old port bridge on November 1. The new port bridge being built is also off limits to the public until it is finished, he said.

Mr. Piya said it is regrettable that closing Koh Samet port bridge will cause hardships for residents and tourists. It is understandable if people protest and blame the Rayong Provincial Administration Organization for the disruption. But he wants the people to understand the reason why the government had do this.

He said that the administrator of national park department also has a responsibility to assist Rayong residents and tourists to work together to find workable solutions to the problem created by the bridge closure.

Reporter : Nattaphummint   Photo : Nattaphummint   Category : Tourism News

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