City council balks at Pattaya-Hua Hin ferry

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City council members are insisting Bali Hai Pier is unprepared to host a new Pattaya-Hua Hin ferry service planned for January, saying millions of baht in repairs are needed first.

Shoddy workmanship has left the pier and bridge at Bali Hai in disrepair, and city council members are insisting it is unprepared to host a new Pattaya-Hua Hin ferry service planned for January, saying millions of baht in repairs are needed first.
Shoddy workmanship has left the pier and bridge at Bali Hai in disrepair, and city council members are insisting it is unprepared to host a new Pattaya-Hua Hin ferry service planned for January, saying millions of baht in repairs are needed first.

Speaking at a Nov. 30 council meeting, Thanet Suporn­sahatrangsi, who also is vice president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, endorsed the concept of a scheduled ferry linking east and western sides of the Gulf of Thailand, but said Bali Hai, particularly the bridge leading to it, is desperately in need of repair and adding more boats and passengers will only make it worse.

He noted the council has before it a proposition to spend 26 million baht to repair the bridge, but the budget has not been approved.

Sinchai Wattanasart­sathorn, who also heads the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association, agreed the pier is not ready to handle the service planning test runs in January.

He noted that current problems with pier previously prompted the current military government to reject the ferry plan, also ruling out Sattahip’s Juksamet Pier for similar reasons. Yet, somehow, the new 15-billion-baht ferry project has won tentative approval.

A final decision on whether the ferry can proceed is scheduled for Dec. 15 in Bangkok.

Pier repairs are part of 142-million-baht package of infrastructure initiatives currently being considered by the city council.

Bridge repairs covering damaged incurred since 2003 are included with new development of the Bali Hai area for next year’s international navy fleet show. The budget request covers 12,000 sq. meters of land and new buildings, including development of the Tourism Authority of Thailand office.

Also included is a proposal to build two new speedboat-loading areas after the military banned operators from boarding passengers on Pattaya Beach.

Finally, the city council is considering the purchase of 76 more closed-circuit cameras. However, the bid was put on hold after objections were raised about the 62,000 baht price of each camera, which is far above average market price.

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