Area officials are beginning to make good on promises to clear the South Pattaya drainage canal of privately owned obstructions, sending more than 100 workers and equipment to remove roads, bridges and buildings encroaching on public land.
Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho and Pattaya deputy mayors Verawat Khakhay and Ronakit Ekasingh oversaw the April 22 operation employing a backhoe, trucks and digging equipment near Soi Marine.
Work has begun on tearing down structures blocking the South Pattaya canal, which have been causing major flooding throughout South Pattaya during heavy rainfalls over the past several years.
Sakchai had met with Pattaya officials April 8 to plan the removal of the illegal structures blocking the flow of storm runoff to the sea. At that meeting, Verawat reported that a recent inspection found up to 14 structures trespassing on the canal, covering about 4.5 rai of land.
He promised that city hall would demolish the impeding structures April 22. In a rare exception to the usual practice, city hall actually carried out its threat.
Deputy Mayor Verawat Khakhay (back) inspects areas of the South Pattaya canal that have been encroached upon around Soi Marine with Land Department officers.
Sakchai said the canal once was 8 meters wide but today, thanks to home and business owners building on the adjacent land, the canal had narrowed to an average of just 3 meters wide. Offenders run the gamut from private individuals to large, influential hotel and mall owners, such as the Siam Bayshore Hotel and Bali Hai Plaza.
The district chief noted that offenders were warned to removed the obstructions or face demolition. Many complied while larger groups, such as Siam Bayshore, began negotiating for time. Sakchai reaffirmed there would be “no exceptions” no matter the size of the business involved.
“We received good cooperation from certain sectors while some are quite stubborn,” said Sakchai, who admitted that previously “there have been warnings to remove these structures, but there was no serious monitoring” of whether they actually complied.
The district chief said holdouts would be given three days to comply and that, once complete, the operation could recover four rai of public land to widen the canal before the rainy season hits.