PATTAYA – Speedboat operators again were banned from loading and offloading customers on Pattaya Beach on May 1, nearly a year after they were told to dock on the sand because Bali Hai Pier couldn’t handle the traffic.
Pattaya City Council Chairman Anan Ankanawisan toured Bali Hai’s floating speedboat docks with Marine Department Director Eakaraj Kantaro and municipal police chief, Pol. Maj. Jirawat Sukontasap April 24 to check on the readiness of the facilities before the May 1 “D-Day”.
In February last year the army barred speedboats and tourist ferries from using Pattaya Beach, forcing them all to utilize pontoons installed at Bali Hai Pier after the military demolished the pier’s speedboat ramp and kicked operators out of the parking area.
The new process quickly proved untenable as it became clear the military didn’t properly calculate how many speedboats needed dock space. Criticized on social media and shamed by photos of long lines, disabled passengers unable to board boats and people falling on wobbly pontoons, the military surrendered and sent everyone back to the beach in March 2017.
The idea of relocating speedboats to the pier was quietly forgotten until Chonburi’s governor visited Pattaya earlier this year and said using the beach as a loading/unloading point was unsafe and Pattaya’s administrators needed to finish the job they started last year.
A city council meeting quickly was called where Chonburi Deputy Gov. Chawalit Saeng-Uthai extracted pledges from Pattaya’s city and military leaders that, for safety reasons, boats would be moved back to Bali Hai as soon as possible.
Little was said publicly about the transition process, however, leaving many questions about how and where tourists will catch their boats to Koh Larn unanswered.