This truly is ‘hearts and minds’ time in Phuket.
The second phase of the government’s island wide beach clean up started in Rawai today, 27 July, with little fanfare.
No local press was around to see a battalion of Royal Thai Army soldiers start assembling around 08:00. And after a few short speeches by local officials and a couple PR photos the boys in green went to work.
Several members of the Corp of Engineers were also a much-welcomed sight. Their expertise will be tested if and when the clean up moves on to Yai Nui, Nai Harn and other beaches.
Hopefully they have a better understanding of hydrology than the local Rawai Municipality. They are needed to fix man-made Nai Harn Lake, which has not properly drained this monsoon season.
Plus tear down debris and Nai Harn Beach rubbish removal is an ongoing battle. Much of it still lies were it fell, some of it was washed out to sea.
However a potential huge environmental mess looms on he south end of Nai Harn Beach.
The fact it still has hard concrete structures from a former restaurant operator is one issue. The multiple overflowing concrete and blue plastic septic tanks it also left behind are much larger challenge.
Waste management experts and possibly a helicopter could be needed to keep this raw sewage out of the Andaman Sea.
Government sources have gone on record saying it will take a year to clean up Phuket and put new guidelines in place. While welcomed by (almost) everyone, something seems missing.
Wouldn’t this be a prime opportunity to educate Thai school children on of how fragile marine environments are?
Adding an education component could make a lasting difference on future generations of Thai kids.
And maybe help deter illegal vendors from encroaching again (burying coolers in sand at Patong Beach) or dumping wastewater into Nai Harn lagoon that drains directly into the Andaman Sea.
This is just Running Fork’s suggestion to give Thai children a basic understanding. Do it now while Phuket is still blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
There is an urgent opportunity to make a lasting difference, not just during the current clean up. But in follow up efforts needed to make this good work last for generations to come.