Final holdouts facing eviction as city nears total clearance of South Pattaya canal zone

Friday, 06 June 2014 From Issue Vol. XXII No. 23 By  Warunya Thongrod

Two weeks after discovering that 25 large commercial buildings near Walking Street were encroaching on the South Pattaya storm-drainage canal, Pattaya officials say only a few landowners remain as obstacles to clearing the flood-control waterway.

Following the May 14 announcement by Pattaya Deputy Mayor Verawat Khakhay that a collection of buildings near the Soho Square section of Walking Street were also built over the waterway, city Engineering and Public Health department staffers went to work to get property owners to remove structures blocking the canal, which feeds storm runoff into the sea.

One would think that, if the owners don’t remove these structures, the next flood would manage the feat for them.One would think that, if the owners don’t remove these structures, the next flood would manage the feat for them.

Among them were a guesthouse opposite Soho Square owned by Pithak Pottian, who built rental rooms over the canal, and the Right Spot Inn, which constructed employee dormitories on the canal. Both owners were given 60 days to remove the structures.

In a May 27 progress meeting with Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho and Pattaya Business & Tourism Association President Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn, Verawat said most landowners have cooperated with the city, but several, including Pithak, are not.

Among them are two property owners on Soi Marine Plaza, one of whom has constructed a single-floor building and another with a two-story structure over the canal.

“These individuals are not cooperating with us and we have to rely on the power of the law to help,” the deputy mayor said. “We will warn the owners that their structures must be removed within 30 days. If they still do not cooperate, we will remove it ourselves and bill them for the cost.”

Unlike previous years, where such threats were made and never carried out, Sakchai has been vigilant in clearing the canal zone. On April 22, he ordered workers to take a backhoe, trucks and digging equipment to 14 structures on 4.5 rai of public land near Soi Marine.

“I have to praise the tremendous actions taken by Pattaya officials regarding floods and trespassing on the public canal,” Sinchai said.

Verawat said since that clearance, city workers have widened the canal in three spots and removed an artificial reservoir to improve water flow. He said he hopes the final obstacles to total clearance of the canal will be complete within a month.

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