Following a May 8 announcement by Pattaya Deputy Mayor Verawat Khakhay that half of the canal had been recovered, Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho did his own inspection May 14, discovering another collection of buildings near the Soho Square section of Walking Street were also built over the waterway. Even worse, every one of the 30 buildings in the neighborhood were dumping untreated sewage and wastewater into the canal, which feeds directly into Pattaya Bay.
To the east, or inland side of Walking Street, the South Pattaya canal has been expanded back to its original 20 meters wide.
In reaction, Deputy Mayor Verawat Khakhay returned to the site the next day with Engineering and Public Health department workers who mapped out the area, even painting a line showing the border of the public canal zone. Parts of 90 percent of the 30 buildings were built over the line, if not the waterway itself.
A city mandated backhoe works to expand the canal behind Soi Marine.
Among them are 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 have been given 60 days to remove the structures.
“I want people to know that we will be making periodic inspections and I confirm that the issue is handled in the same way for all encroachments, whether big or small,” Sakchai said. “People can rest assured that there are no double standards in our working methods.”
Sakchai made - and followed through - on a similar pronouncement a month ago in relation to the structures blocking the drainage canal east of Walking Street. Previously untouchable land owners, such as the Siam Bayshore Resort & Spa were called on the carpet and are being forced to dismantle footbridges and even reshape an island built in the canal.
“I must caution that more time is needed for removal of big buildings, since the expense is quite high. But we are complying with the Building Control Act of 1979 and in the case of slow progress, the local administrative organization can proceed with immediate removal with the owner responsible for the expenses,” the district chief said. “I am confident that this will be a success.”
Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho (2nd right) and Deputy Mayor Verawat Khakhay (right) inspect the progress of recovering the South Pattaya canal.
Perhaps more troubling than the actual encroachment of the canal zone is the documentation that none of the 30 buildings using the canal to flush wastewater are using Sewage Aeration Treatment System, or SATS, tanks. Instead of filtering waste-water through SATS tanks, which use active bacteria to treat the water, sewage and wastewater is being dumped directly into the canal that feeds into the sea.
The “discovery” could hardly have been a surprise to anyone, as the putrid smell of the canal has filled the air around the southernmost end of Walking Street for years and Pattaya Beach, at the canal’s outlet, has been stained black.
Still, the public documentation of the issue has inspired politicians to promise a fix. Verawat said Pattaya will lay a new drainage system for the canal area, with 2-meter-wide wastewater pipes on either side of the canal and clean water flowing between them. He said property owners will also be educated not to use the canal as a garbage dump.