Naklua Sapanyao Bridge residents face massive encroachment fines under new law

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Residents and businesses near Naklua’s “long bridge” are facing hundreds of thousands of baht in fines for structures illegally built over water decades ago.
Residents and businesses near Naklua’s “long bridge” are facing hundreds of thousands of baht in fines for structures illegally built over water decades ago.

Residents and businesses near Naklua’s “long bridge” are facing hundreds of thousands of baht in fines for structures illegally built over water decades ago.

The Marine Department on May 23 officially notified property owners near the Sapanyao Bridge that it is now enforcing the new Navigation in Thai Waters Act, which came into effect in April. The legislation seeks to reign in encroachment by structures illegally built over public rivers, streams, beaches and sea.

The goal is to preserve rivers for marine transport, agriculture and flood protection. Property owners must demolish or modify about 350 structures within a year or be fined up to 10,000 baht per square meter.

Many of the Sapanyao owners unsurprisingly are not pleased.

Many of those interviewed said they inherited their houses or restaurants from grandparents and no one had raised any objections about the structures in the past 30 years.

While they acknowledge their property is encroaching on public waterways, they said they don’t understand how a new law can simply be enacted and upend the status quo of the past 30 years.

The Sapanyao villagers say they don’t have the money to alter their buildings nor pay the fines. The neighborhood has entered into negotiations with the Marine Department to win a compromise.