As the city government begins another attempt to save Pattaya Beach from critical erosion, beach vendors say they are ready to cooperate with the 430-million-baht sand-restoration project set to get underway this month.
It has been 13 months since Pattaya’s former elected leaders postponed indefinitely the reconstruction of Pattaya Beach after being unable to procure enough sand.
Then-Deputy Mayor Verawat Khakhay said Sept. 3, 2015 that the 429.1 million project to build up and widen Pattaya Beach to counter years of erosion was supposed to have been completed in December last year, but never even started due to the inability to find 400,000 cu. meters of sand that matches that currently on Pattaya Beach.
What the city did in the interim was lay down rows and rows of sandbags, which now are filthy, broken and an eyesore on an already-distressed shoreline.
The Marine Department now is digging up parts of the shoreline in anticipation of finally beginning work by the end of October.
Beach umbrella vendor Wichian Chiewjit said Oct. 3 that he and other vendors are waiting anxiously for the city to get to work, as experts in April 2011 warned that Pattaya Beach could disappear within five years.
That obviously hasn’t happened, due in part to stopgap sand refill efforts that began in 2012 and the placement of sandbags.
Tourist boat operator Rampoie Eaksamai said sandbags have made Pattaya Beach ugly but the sand-refill project could restore its beauty, widening the shoreline to 35 meters as it was decades ago.
Umbrella renter Prateang Thongaumyai acknowledged that all vendors will be hurt by dredging and filling but it’s an inconvenience they’d be happy to endure if it cements a stronger future on a rebuilt beachfront.
Pattaya originally had planned to bring sand from a Rayong estuary to an offshore barge in Pattaya, then use smaller equipment to bring the sand to shore and refill the beach and install supporting frames and breakwaters starting from the Dusit Curve southward.
Objections from Rayong provincial officials resulted in Pattaya not being able to obtain enough sand from that source, so it chose a section off of Koh Khram as a new source. However, that sand was found to not match Pattaya’s own sand well enough and now a new source was needed.
Khakhay said last September that the Royal Thai Navy also has objected to removing sand from the island it controls, the region’s main breeding ground for endangered Green and Hawksbill sea turtles.