Pattaya officials defended the city’s new swimming-area buoys, saying the red-and-white floats were tested strenuously and blamed buoy-related accidents on drunk, careless and out-of-shape tourists.
Anucha Luangmuang, head of the Sea Disaster Prevention office, met with reporters March 28 to explain the decision to use the wide, flat pontoons two weeks after city hall spokespeople, city council members and Tourism Promotion Bureau executives were caught flat-footed by pointed questions about pre-deployment testing, the budget used to pay for them and who approved them.
Anucha Luangmuang, acting chief of Sea Disaster Prevention, defends the use of the new swim buoys.
Anucha said he made the final decision to use the buoys following extensive testing by engineering experts at Chulalongkorn and Ramkhamhaeng universities. The tests, he said, evaluated the buoys’ resistance, pressure and ability to withstand various waves up to 3 meters.
They were not designed, however, as platforms on which swimmers could walk. Several people have been injured while doing so and police blamed a recent drowning on such behavior.
Anucha said the accidents weren’t directly related to the buoys and were caused by carelessness by the swimmer, drunkenness, or a lack of physical fitness.
As for their funding, the buoys were paid for by the national Budget Bureau, using an 88 million baht fund earmarked for all of Pattaya’s 24 swimming zones, he said.
Some devices have been installed and tested for a year and are still usable, he said, supporting the decision to replace the previous round buoys because of the new design’s resiliency, strength and reparability.
He acknowledged that accidents remain a concern, however, but said the city’s only plan is to have marine-rescue officials warn and advise tourists they see walking on the buoys that doing so could be dangerous.