Pattaya’s proposal to start dumping garbage near a Jomtien Beach arena hit a brick wall after residents got a whiff of the stinky plan.
Administrators had suggested to neighbors of the city’s overflowing Sukhumvit Soi 3 rubbish-transfer facility that the excess could be stored on vacant land near the Eastern National Indoor Sports Stadium. But word soon spread to Soi Chaiyapruek 2 residents who responded with a vehement “not in my backyard” protest.
On May 15, emergency contractor Ruamkha Advance Tech International began hauling away excess garbage to a landfill in Rayong. About 100 tons had been removed by Tuesday, but the site gets 400-plus tons a day, so Ruamkha’s work hardly is a permanent solution.
Following meetings with East Pattaya and Jomtien Community leaders May 9 and 13, Mayor Anan Charoenchasri admitted defeat, dealing another setback to Pattaya’s losing battle against trash.
The rubbish war truly has reached a tipping point: Pattaya has lost use of its former dump in Khao Maikaew, the Interior Ministry has barred the city from moving garbage dumped at the Soi 3 facility to other locations, the transfer facility is over capacity, garbage bins around the city are being left uncollected and city hall has bungled the contracting process for a new trash hauler.
The anger at this month’s hearings was palpable.
Residents of the Kratinglai and Ban Rongkeed communities adjoining the Sukhumvit Soi 3 dump laid out eight demands, including compensation of 5 million baht to those affected by the pollution and smell. The other demands included removal of excess waste, cleanup and treatment of polluted water flowing from the transfer station, continuous traffic management, quick response to residents’ complaints, and a establishment of a citizen’s committee to monitor use of the dump.
Apichart Virapal said at the May 9 hearing that city hall could meet six of the residents’ demands, but payment of the 5 million baht and a citizens’ council were a red line. The compensation could violate Interior Ministry rules and would also need to be approved by the city council. And a public-inspection panel, the deputy mayor claimed, would only lead to delays in solving the trash crisis.
Residents attending the May 13 hearing at Pattaya School No. 1 didn’t take kindly to Apichart’s refusals.
Speakers said the deputy mayor was just paying residents lip service on compensation, claiming the city has no intention of ever paying. Meanwhile, locals are being forced from their homes by pollution and health hazards.
Others seemed less interested in solving Pattaya’s trash crunch than just shipping it to a different neighborhood. NIMBY advocates suggested Pattaya should dump its trash in Sattahip near the naval base, an idea Pattaya officials quickly quashed saying it was now against the law.
Anan insisted he and his deputies are working tirelessly to solve the trash problem, but pointed out the junta-appointed city council has four times rejected budget requests ranging from 800 million to 1.3 billion baht, claiming the requests were too expensive.
However, he added, he has directed the Engineering Department to begin work on a proper drainage system for the Soi 3 facility so water flows into the sewers instead of into neighbors’ yards.
Meanwhile, he said, the city finally is ready to put its new trash-hauling contract out to bid. The city has budgeted a billion baht for the four-year contract and wants a hauler that has modern trucks and enough employees to do the job, unlike Pattaya’s current contractor.
Where the new contractor will take that trash, however, remains the problem. The Soi 3 facility was never intended to be a permanent dump, but instead a stopping point on the way to landfills in Laem Chabang and Khao Maikaew.