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Another truckload, and the plateau of trash swells

Trends: A Tsunami of Trash is Heading This Way

Wednesday, February 20, 2008
WHAT the 5.47 million people who came to visit Phuket last year did not see is the ''mountain'' of garbage they left behind.

It's an awesome sight, not so much a peak as a plateau, spread out as far as the eye can see at Saphan Hin in Phuket City.

Whether the visitors are package tourists taking cheap holidays or the premium big-spenders that Phuket wants, garbage is what they leave behind. Loads of it.

And the warning signs are there that, unless something is done urgently and in a co-ordinated fashion, Phuket's tourist industry could simply finish up being trashed.

Property, including the burgeoning villa market and the booming new resorts, would go down the gurgler, too. Nobody wants to live in their own muck.

Take the latest comment by someone who has all our best interests at heart, the head of the Phuket Natural Resources and Environment Department, Ongart Chanachanmongkol.

He says that Phuket's authorities cannot even take a combined approach on garbage disposal and recycling.

That's a large alarm bell, ringing loudly.

Khun Ongart told Phuketwan that meetings between local authorities have been held ''many times'' without a decision being agreed.

The problem is that with the incinerator unable to burn more than half of the island's daily waste, it's a growing crisis.

If local authorities do not even see the scale of the problem, then a solution will be many years in the making.

Already, visitors complain about the unsightly garbage that can be seen in pockets around the island.

We've had a couple of dead fish in the bay scares, a sure signal of the potential for environmental catastrophe.

I went to the long plot of land behind the incinerator to see the size and scale of the problem and came away with the sense of an approaching nightmare.

Small groups of people camp each day on Phuket's plateau of refuse, taking shade uder rough awnings as they await the arrival of the next garbage truck.

Close to sundown, dogs scavenge among the piles. Birds circle above. The trucks rumble in and dump their loads: one even had a delightful sea view painted on its side.

These are, presumably, the truckloads of trash that the incinerator cannot handle.

There are plenty of them, and more will be coming today and every day.

The people of the plateau move in, sorting through the fresh piles for treasures, perhaps a bundle of discarded clothes.

Others separate plastic bags or tin cans into piles. The flies are bad. The dust and the smell are awful.

Around the plateau, the garbage spills out towards the nearby mangroves.

Not far away, in the park, people picnic in the fading sunlight without realising the revolting sight that's just a couple of hundred metres from them.

What Khun Ongart has to say should be compulsory reading for every visitor and resident.

Like the picnickers, Phuket's tourist millions cannot see the disaster on the horizon, coming our way.

A tsunami of trash threatens to engulf the island. Something must be done now.

Otherwise, perhaps all too soon, we will simply be forced to turn our backs and run.

What Khun Ongart told Phuketwan

Complete article


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Say this mantra everyday to vendors...
"Mai-ao toong na ka, na-song-sahn Tummachaht!!"

Posted by Anonymous on January 10, 2011 22:19

Friday February 23, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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