Illegal shops in Phuket face demolition

Illegal shops in Phuket face demolition

Ownership of 92 unlawfully acquired plots covering 1,000 rai to be revoked

Illegally built shops and resorts along two famous beaches in Phuket are being dismantled as part of a National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) crackdown on encroachment onto state-owned land and national parks.

Umbrellas and beach chairs owned by food shop owners are also being removed from Naithon and Naiyang beaches, after tourists complained that they were shooed away by owners if they sat nearby without paying or eating at the shops.

The umbrellas and chairs were an eyesore on the beaches for most visitors, the complaints said.

Both beaches are part of the Sirinath National Park.

The shops that have not been demolished have been given a 30-day deadline starting from now to dissemble their installations and relocate or the properties will be demolished by forestry officials at the expense of the owners in the next 15-30 days.

Separately, Samak Donnapee, director of the Bureau of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said the "ownership" of 92 plots of unlawfully acquired land covering more than 1,000 rai by former ministers and deputies, and provincial governors would be revoked.

"The NCPO has the names of all these people and is aware of this issue," he said, without elaborating.

He added that past agreements were unlawful because his bureau had not approved them.

The Sakhoo Tambon Adminis-trative Organisation (TAO) had been informed the agreements were unlawful and petitions were lodged with the police against the owners of permanent buildings.

But he did not say if legal action would later be taken against these former officials.

Meanwhile, senior forestry official, Sanit Ongsara, said the park had signed an agreement with the Sakhoo TAO, to manage beachfront shops and resorts.

However, he said, permanent buildings were later constructed and the number of beach chairs exceeded the number originally agreed upon.

"The space on the beach and the buildings were transferred later to renters or buyers at high prices, and reached Bt7 million for each shop," Sanit said.

Six-month timeframe

He said the disassembly work on both beaches would be completed in six months. It would be conducted jointly by a team of 200 forestry officials, soldiers, and officials from relevant agencies.

Seven buildings have been dismantled so far, he said, adding that the owners only paid property tax, signboard tax and fees for instructions they request.

"There are a few people benefiting from running the shops and resorts, but the beach is public land which should be utilised fairly by everyone." he added.

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