Patong vendors beg for a chance

About 350 vendors and deckchair operators on Patong beach lost their jobs on Wednesday as authorities cleared all structures in the area in an attempt to return the encroached strip to the public.

A 200-strong team comprising military officers, territory defence volunteers and municipality staff led by Col Somchai Ponathong, chief of staff for the 41st Military Circle, removed sun beds, parasols and tents belonging to deckchair operators and vendors as part of a cleanup and reorganisation of the beach landscape recently launched by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

Col Somchai said the vendors had been told to remove their structures from Patong beach but were allowed to continue their businesses on the condition that they must not encroach upon the beach or erect any structure on it. 

Wednesday’s operation aimed to clear the remaining structures on the beach, he said.    

During the beach cleanup, a large group of affected vendors reportedly surrounded authorities and told them they would be left without jobs and income. 

Patong Mayor Chalermluck Kebsab said the Patong beach vendors had registered their names with provincial officials who would later hold talks and conclude measures on how to help them. 

She said more than 350 individuals had registered with authorites including 60 deckchair  operators, 190 masseuses and 100 operators of boats and jet skis. 

Sommit Romchoo said his family had been hiring out loungers on Patong beach for almost 30 years and called for a land use allocation plan for operators. He said he was willing to operate his business under any regulation proposed by the authorities. 

“This is my occupation. I don’t know what other job I can do,” Mr Sommit said.  

Masseuse Sawarng Kaewjam said she agreed with the new beach management but wanted authorities to allocate public space and introduce measures that will ensure her livelihood and income.

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