Pattaya will change the design of its swimming-area buoys in Jomtien Beach following a string of injuries and at least one death attributed to flat pontoons installed off Pattaya and Wong Amat beaches.
In an interview, Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh said the seven remaining swimming areas in Jomtien will receive rounded oval-shaped buoys when work crews replace the older round buoys that marked swimmer areas there. Flat buoys already installed in 17 areas in Jomtien, Pattaya and Wong Amat will not be replaced, he said.
Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh said the seven remaining swimming areas in Jomtien will receive rounded oval-shaped buoys.
The changes come after a 19-year-old Thai tourist fell off one of the wide, red-and-white buoys recently installed at Jomtien Soi 8 and drowned. A number of other injuries have occurred after swimmers walked on the markers that were never designed to be platforms.
As officials have done since the accidents first started popping up in February, Ronakit defended the new zone markers, claiming Chaiyaphum native Cholthawat Thammontree did not die because he fell off a buoy, but because he didn’t know how to swim and was playing in the swimming zone during high tide.
“The tourist was from another province and it was his first time in the sea,” the deputy mayor said of the teen, who was fully dressed while 100 meters off the sand. “He did not know about high and low tides, which ultimately resulted in his death because he could not help himself.”
Ronakit also said the city will increase the number of lifeguards in each swimming zone to two, although frequent checks by the Pattaya Mail showed that lifeguard stations seldom had life guards working to begin with. He added that emergency equipment, including oxygen and life vests, would be positioned in each swim zone.
Furthermore, the deputy mayor said, the city will install signs in Thai, English and Russian along the beach advising swimmers of low- and high-tide times.
Pattaya began replacing old and damaged round buoys along area beaches in February, installing long and wide pontoons that not only looked better, but kept speedboats and jet skis away from swimmers. Almost immediately, however, reports of injuries began surfacing when swimmers hopped on and walked along the floats.
City officials have attempted to educate the public against such behavior, but their message has been limited to press conferences and news reports. Few actual personnel on the beaches were keeping people off the buoys.
Officials ordered some modifications to the design, increasing the distance between the floats to discourage walkers.
Ronakit said the most dangerous area during high tide is in Jomtien Beach near the Surf Kitchen restaurant.