Despite protests, Naklua ‘walking street’ market to go on

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Pattaya will again organize a “walking street” market in Naklua during high season despite the complaints of residents that prompted a public hearing and vote.

City Councilman Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn chaired the Sept. 5 meeting at the Sawang Boriboon Thamma­sathan Foundation headquarters about the proposed “9th Naklua Walk and Eat”, which has taken many names but followed the same general concept since 2008.

The weekend market ran from Dec. 19 through March 5 this year with food and shopping booths set up between the Namchai electronics store intersection and the Old Naklua Market.

As it does every year, the market sparks tremendous traffic and congestion. But its expansion in 2016-17 from eight weeks to 12 pushed some area residents over the edge, inspiring them to organize to kill the event for 2017-18.

It didn’t work.

Naklua locals – many of them who sold at the market or are members of tourism groups – greatly outnumbered critics and 241 people ended up voting in favor of organizing the event again, in the same spot.

That’s not to say people didn’t want to see changes.

Chalermchai Kebsub, 35, said he didn’t want the event canceled because it benefits many residents by giving them an opportunity to earn extra money. However, he suggested, Pattaya needs to do a better job of managing traffic.

Srisuda Rachniyom, chairwoman of the Community Way Tourism of Old Naklua Market, said she’d like to see the length of the market shortened. She said local vendors didn’t sell as much as they did when the walking street ran just eight weeks because vendors from outside Naklua were allowed to sell as well.

She wants Pattaya to select only local vendors to be placed at the center of the event. Otherwise, she said, the market doesn’t benefit the Naklua community.

Arunee Horthongkam, the group’s vice chairwoman, added she is concerned about fire hazards at the market and thinks Pattaya needs to increase the amount of security and safety measures.