If there’s anything positive about the plunge in Chinese tourism to Koh Larn it is because the break has given Pattaya a chance to resolve the island’s chronic garbage problem.
For years, Koh Larn has suffered from a backlog of up to 90,000 tons of garbage stacked up and spilling out of the boundaries of what was supposedly a waste waystation. Up to 12 tons a day have to be towed away by barge to the mainland, but the barges broke down years ago and were never replaced, despite a 95-million-baht allocation by the Pattaya City Council in January 2018.
At the height of the Chinese tourist wave, Koh Larn was receiving more than 10,000 visitors a day, far more than its crumbling infrastructure can accommodate. Those numbers have fallen to 2,000 or less a day, giving Pattaya a chance to catch up on the trash problem.
Residents have made clear they don’t want the trash buried, but that’s exactly what Pattaya is doing. The 10-rai dump was expanded to 12 rai in 2017 and now has been expanded again. On Feb. 29 Deputy Mayor Manote Nongyai said more HDPE sheets were laid so that the waste doesn’t seep into the ground and most of the current 50,000-ton backlog has been buried.
Pattaya is still holding out hope that the Interior Ministry will approve its request to build two incinerators, each capable of handling 25 tons of garbage.
Manote said the request will be decided this year, but the same thing was said every year since 2016.