Ferry Koh Chang, which operates the car ferry, between Ao Thammachat on the mainland and Ao Sapparot on Koh Chang, brought its services to a halt on August 11th in protest at a land encroachment decision, which ordered the partial demolition of one its its piers.
Flash Strike at Encroachment Decision
Completely taking the authorities by surprise, Koh Chang Express Co, the ferries’ parent company, shut the ferry early afternoon. All passengers were then disembarked, tickets refunded and diverted over to Centerpoint Ferry further up the Laem Ngop coast. This resulted in long queues more reminiscent of Songkran and New Year.
Company workers laid the blame for the inconvenience squarely at the feet of the park officials, though they did call off the flash strike at 17.00 following uncomfortable negotiations between Koh Chang Express executives and Koh Chang district chief Kamthorn Waehon.
National Park chief Veera Khunchairak heavily criticised the ferry company for attempting to “divert a legal issue” by halting its service, citing it as a completely wrong move
Following the encroachment decision, Ferry Koh Chang has three months to enact the demolition order. This includes all structures deemed to have encroached on either National Park land or illegally into the ocean. Failure to comply will mean the authorities stepping in to carry out the order themselves.
The encroachment decisions is part of a wide ranging review of building structures and their legality across Koh Chang. In the past, little discernible action has resulted from these reviews but this time, the authorities seem serious on enforcement.
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