The news follows the arrest of nine people during random tour boat inspections by officers from the Tourist Police, Marine Police and the Phuket Marine Office at Chalong Pier on Saturday (Jan 20).
In all, 12 people were charged for violating marine transport laws, Tourist Police Deputy inspector Capt Ekkachai Siri confirmed to The Phuket News today (Jan 22).
“Two people were operating speedboats with expired licenses, another one didn’t have his boat operator’s license on board with him at the time of the inspection, and another six operators were not running boats in accordance with the conditions specified in their license,” he said.
All six caught using their boats illegally were found operating their boats with insufficient crew, Capt Ekkachai explained.
“By law each speedboat being used to transport tourists must have at least two crew and a captain on board when transporting tourists,” he said.
The boats were found with just one crewman assisting the captain, he added.
“All nine charged were fined B2,000 each, then released,” Capt Ekkachai noted.
Some of the speedboats were allowed to continue providing their tours to tourists after paying the B2,000 fine, but others were forced to bring in other crew and captains to operate the boats before they were allowed to depart, he added.
Capt Ekkachai declined to name the nine caught breaking the law.
“Their cases will have too serious consequences to reveal their names to press,” he said.
However, he added, “They were warned by, marine officials. If they break the law again, I will make their names public.”
Phuket Marine Police and Marine Office officials will continue to inspect boats at Chalong Pier twice a week, Capt Ekkachai cautioned.
Repeat offenders also risk losing their financial lifeline, he added.
“I will ask that tour operators who continue to break marine safety laws to have their tourism busniess licences revoked by the Tourism Business and Guide Registration Office in Phuket,” Capt Ekkachai warned.
Of the three remaining offenders caught, Capt Ekkachai noted that all three were taken to Chalong Police Station to be charged.
Two of them – Chatree U-so, 26, found operating the speedboat Sirana and Chaiyapoom Trongbut, 36, found operating a speedboat belonging to Nikorn Marine – had never been issued a boat operators’ licence, Cpl Natthasak Rongmueng of the Chalong Police confirmed to The Phuket News today.
The third charged at the police station was 35-year-old Indonesian national Ay Yahya, who was caught operating a boat without any licence, exceeding the maximum capacity of the boat and he was staying in the country illegally.
Ay Yahya, who was presented at Phuket Provincial Court today along with the two others charged at Chalong Police Station, faces a fine from B1,000 up to B10,000, or up to six months in jail, or both, Cpl Natthasak explained.
“Regardless, as he was caught working illegally in Thailand, he will be deported,” Cpl Natthasak said.
“The rest of the penalties are for the court to decide,” he added.