The Bali Hai Service Center, a 25-million-baht office and meeting facility the former junta said was needed to impress foreign dignitaries will be remodeled for other uses after laying empty for 5 years.
Critics of Pattaya’s lavish 2017 spending on the redevelopment of Bali Hai Pier predicted the office building and conference center the navy insisted it needed would become a white elephant. They were right.
In the five years since it was completed in time for the navy’s 2017 International Fleet Show, the two-wing complex of offices and a conference center on the left and ferry ticket office, storage room, more offices and public restrooms on the right have sat empty, even though Bali Hai Pier could use restrooms and a ticket office.
But Pattaya not only never hired anyone to manage the center, it didn’t apportion any money to maintain the building.
The conference center has been used only once to host traveling bureaucrats on a Pattaya junket. The office created for the Marine Department has never been used. The other areas of the building have been used only sporadically by tourists seeking shelter from the rain. The building is now beginning to fall apart due to no maintenance.
The Pattaya City Council on Nov. 29 resolved to tear down the offices and convert the conference center into a waiting area to accommodate the tens of thousands of tourists that use the Bali Hai Pier.
Deputy Mayor Manote Nongyai, who wasn’t around for the boondoggle by the military and its appointed representatives in Pattaya City Hall, admitted the entire project was a colossal waste of money.
The building was part of nearly 200 million baht in projects that Pattaya and the military spent on the pier, including 97 million baht on landscaping, including a “dancing fountain” that was never maintained and soon broke, never to be restored.
At an early public hearing, the need for the building was questioned; with critics saying the pier already had adequate office space to manage boat traffic and pier administration.
In the end, the only ones that profited from the project were the select few and the contractor they chose to build the white elephant that now will finally be put to good use for the benefit of the general public.