Wat Chai Market to be dismantled as military continues clearing sidewalks nationwide

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South Pattaya’s popular Wat Chaimongkol street market is set to be dismantled this week as Pattaya falls in line with national efforts to clear sidewalks of illegal vendors.

Permanent Secretary Pakorn Sukhonthachat advised food, clothing and other vendors Sept. 3 they had until Sept. 12 to remove their stands or have the demolished by the city under orders from the Department of Lands, which now is strictly enforcing the 1999 law on cleanliness and tidiness of sidewalks.

Vendors were advised via public notice on Aug. 28 they had 15 days to move and have been offered spots at the Naklua Market. However, many vendors are resisting, complaining the new market is too far from their homes and their customer base.

Pattaya’s Permanent Secretary Pakorn Sukhonthachat (right) and city lawyer Natapong Maithong explain why the area must be demolished.Pattaya’s Permanent Secretary Pakorn Sukhonthachat (right) and city lawyer Natapong Maithong explain why the area must be demolished.

Pattaya city lawyer Natapong Maithong acknowledged their concerns, but offered the vendors no concession, as the city has had its hands tied by country’s military regime.

The market has been operating since 1996, when Chaimongkol Co. turned over the privately-owned street to Pattaya City Hall for public use. In 2007, the city began charging vendors 1,500 baht rental per month, which quickly stoked the ire of Chaimongkol Co., which protested the city collecting fees on public land and filed a complaint with the Department of Lands.

The department sent a formal warning letter to the city, telling them to end the practice in 2008. Vendors have been selling on the sidewalks rent-free ever since. Chaimongkol Co., however, continued its protests, saying it donated the land to the city to make a truly public area. But until the Royal Thai Army took over the government, those complaints were roundly ignored.

The market is particularly popular at night and after-midnight as hungry bar workers and patrons spill out of nearby Walking Street and Pattayaland entertainment zones. Vendors operate there from morning until night and many are unhappy with being told to leave.

The city said it wants to collect feedback from the displaced merchants, although some have already conceded and relocated to Naklua.

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