As a scuba diving company, we have met with different obstacles on Bali Hai Pier but the most recent issue is proving to be dangerous and a health hazard to our customers. Some time ago, due to traffic congestion, the authorities stopped vehicles from going down onto the pier. The boats need some way of getting their supplies and equipment, etc. onto the boats. So, the local motorbike and sidecars set up to the side of the ferry ticket office. They were charging 50 baht per trip and usually transported passengers, diving equipment, food and supplies down to the boats. This was convenient for carrying bags of diving equipment, especially if you have quite a few bags!
However, it seems the droves of Chinese tourists heading down the pier were concerned about the motorbikes being dangerous. So, the authorities decided to allow the motorbikes and sidecars to go onto the pier in the mornings only – until 10:30. This was ok for getting our diving equipment down to the boats but proved a problem for getting it back after the trip. The only alternative was for the boats to dock at the same area as the rubbish barges dock. These barges transport the rubbish from Koh Larn back to mainland Pattaya. The area is dirty and stinks of putrid rubbish. It is not the ideal place for tourists to be anywhere near. That alone is bad enough, but more often than not, they need to climb over the barges or other boats to get onto land. This is dangerous and a health risk.
A few weeks ago, an elderly gentleman had to climb over the rubbish barge. He slipped in the grease and dirt on the barge and he was covered in filth. Then, just yesterday (24th Jan), we got a call from the boat company to say that the authorities were stopping all vehicles on the pier at all times. So, our snorkelling customers from Hong Kong had to board the boat at the rubbish pier. They were young guys but they were quite shocked at the very idea.
This morning, our customers had to board the boat, passing under a crane that was lifting concrete slabs onto a barge to be transported to Koh Larn. The crane operator refused to stop working while the customers boarded.
To sum up, Chinese tourists get the ‘red carpet’ treatment with their access to Bali Hai Pier, but snorkelling and diving tourists have a foul-smelling and hazardous obstacle course just to get on and off a boat!
This is a serious accident waiting to happen, who will accept responsibility when it does?
Sentinel Enterprises Co. Ltd.