Samui investment outpaces utilities
SAMUI, 27 July 2012: Samui is playing catch-up building basic public utilities that fail to keep pace with the expansion in resorts and tourism said Samui Island Municipality mayor, Ramnate Chaikwang.
Mr Ramnate told TTR Weekly in an interview at the Samui Island Municipality, Wednesday, public utilities could not match the boom in tourism investment.
“Samui has seen the arrival of several five-star international hotel chains on the island over the last two years,” said Mr Ramnate. “However, we have to admit that most of our public utilities cannot match tourism demand and investment in hotels,” he said.
Admitting investment in infrastructure was falling way behind, Mr Ramnate said the municipality was working on improving roads, water supply and electricity. Another priority was waste management followed by flood prevention and building an environmental friendly waste disposal system.
“Roads have not changed much in 30 years and are badly in need of repair,” he said. “Also we need to expand water and electricity supply on the island to keep pace with growth.”
Project highlights are:
• The municipality is working on road repairs including installing a waste water system along a 17 km stretch of road. There are 52 km of roads on the island that need repair and the budget allocated for this task is Bt450 million. The first phase is due to completed by September next year. The last two phases of road improvements are pending a budget allocation.
• Water supply comes from two sources – lakes and transforming sea water to fresh water, but there is still a shortage. The municipality is now improving Chaweng Lake and installing a more efficient wastewater treatment at the lake to improve the quality of the water. Also, officials are proposing to buy land plots in front of Na Mueang Lake to build a reservoir.
• Electricity shortage should be solved once a new power plant station on Mae Nam Beach is ready to support the Taling Ngam Beach power plant. The project will cost around Bt3 billion including electricity cables from the mainland to supplement three other cables and the island’s power plant. The project is due to completed by the second quarter of next year.
“We have enough rainfall each year, but we don’t have enough reservoirs to store the water. Also the quality of the water needs to be improved,” he said.
Currently, there are two water supply facilities that turn seawater to fresh water on the island – one is owned by East Water Company and another by the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority. Samui has three lakes; Krachud Lake, Na Mueang Lake and Chaweng Lake. They are all used for water supply.
On the waste management front, Mr Ramnate recognised Samui has been in hot water over waste problems for many years. So the focus now is on the following:
• There is a plan to add waste water treatment plants in three areas; Mae Nam Beach, Hua Thanon and Bo Phut. However, the project will cost Bt1 billion and needs government approval and support;
• Garbage management will concentrate on the use of incinerators to burn garbage. There are plans to separate garbage that can be recycled. The aim is to make the island a green destination.
“Our goal is to achieve green island status, but it will take time to change perceptions and convince local communities to support the venture,” said Mr Ramnate.
Samui is a multi-billion dollar tourism destination, but very little had been reinvested in building basic infrastructure and this has resulted in the island running short of electricity, unable to manage its garbage disposal and facing difficulties supplying adequate water supply.
These factors should slow hotel and real estate investment, but it hasn’t. Investors fail to factor in the high cost of utilities and the short-fall in water supply especially in the peak season. They continue to invest in resorts believing public utilities will keep pace. They are not.