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Krabi Governor Siwa Sirisoawaluk, in holiday shirt.

Krabi Bridge Plan Sparks Enviro Debate

Wednesday, July 2, 2008
A ROW is brewing over a plan to link Koh Lanta to the mainland of Krabi via a new bridge.

The plan has the support of the Krabi Governor, Siwa Sirisoawaluk. But it is opposed by the chairman of the Krabi Chamber of Commerce, Watana Thanasakcharoen.

The debate reflects many of the issues that are now coming to the surface as the Andaman provinces try to balance conservation and development.

The governor wants to link Lanta Yai to the mainland and Lanta Lek to Lanta Yai with two bridges.

But Khun Watana says the people on the islands do not want a land link with the mainland.

They fear it would trigger rampant development, with problems of garbage disposal, overuse of limited water supplies, excessive numbers of tourists and a lack of infrastructure.

They would be happy with the bridge between Lanta Yai and Lanta Lek because it would allow residents of Lanta Lek to have speedier access to medical care in emergencies.

Khun Watana the high season was likely to trigger at least 14 charter flights a week to Krabi airport.

In a familiar refrain, he called on the national government to deliver more funding to the province so the natural environment could be protected.

He said the number of people visiting Krabi this low season was 10 percent down on 2007 figures because of the high price of oil and uncertainty in national politics.

Although numbers increased during the high season, the occupancy rate in Krabi resorts was running at 25-30 percent now, he said.

''If we have good infrastructure, the tourists who come for a day or two will stay longer and spend more money,'' he said.

''That's also a good reason why the government should provide funding to build the road between Tab Lamu in Phang Nga and Au Luk in Krabi.

''A good, safe road link would encourage tourists and also trade.''

On the other hand, Governor Siwa believes a bridge would help the development of deep sea docking off Koh Lanta for yachts and cruise ships.

He sees this as part of the strategy for growth of Krabi's tourism quality industry.

Governor Siwa believes investment and conservation in Krabi can be best controlled if people inquire at his office first.

''I do not want Krabi to develop like Phuket,'' he told Phuketwan.

''The 80 metre limit works on Phuket, but we can do more to protect our natural beauty here.''

He wants locals to continue to own the land and benefit from new jobs.

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Wednesday May 18, 2022
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