Sontaya lays out priorities for Pattaya
Vows to juggle local woes with EEC plans
New Pattaya mayor, Sontaya Kunplome, stressed the need for the city to quickly address water, environmental and traffic problems while fully supporting the government's flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project.
Speaking Tuesday at a gathering attended by local administrative officials, he said one important role Pattaya now has is to support the implementation of the EEC project which is gathering pace.
The EEC involves a high-speed train project, a scheme to further develop U-tapao airport, a plan to develop Laem Chabang Port and a proposal to construct a so-called smart city, he said.
Besides the EEC, Pattaya still has a tough challenge in addressing serious problems hindering the city's development, he said.
The first involves water-related problems, especially constant flooding and pollution, which have been plaguing the city for several years, he said.
These problems have not only affected locals residents but have also damaged the city's reputation and hurt tourism, he said.
The city will work more closely with local administrative organisations in neighbouring areas in studying the problems and finding effective solutions to them, he said.
Due to urbanisation, former wa- ter-catchment areas in the city have been replaced by buildings at a rate that has outpaced development of the water drainage system, he said.
The new mayor also vowed to get rid of what he called Pattaya's main environmental problem, the high volume of accumulated waste.
To do this, the city should start by tackling the surge in the amount of waste produced during public holidays, Mr Sontaya said.
Greater efforts are required to reduce waste created during public holidays to curb the amount of accumulated waste, he said, adding that about 450 tonnes of waste are created each day in Pattaya.
Another major problem is traffic congestion, he said.
In the short term, measures will put in place to mitigate the impact major tourism promotion events have on Pattaya's traffic, while relevant organisations work on a plan to alleviate traffic woes, he said.
Late last month, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha dismissed claims Mr Sontaya's appointment as Pattaya's mayor was a political ploy to ensure his return as premier.
Gen Prayut said Mr Sontaya, who is also leader of the Phalang Chon Party, was perfectly qualified to be mayor and help push the EEC project forward.
Gen Prayut made the appointment via the invocation of the powerful Section 44 order.
Mr Sontaya, a former tourism and sports minister whose family wields considerable political power in Chon Buri, replaced Pol Maj Gen Anan Chaloenchasi as mayor of the resort city.
The order stated that Pattaya needed a mayor with "high potential, as well as experience and capabilities" to carry out jobs in line with the EEC project.
The 55-year-old will initially serve as an "interim mayor" while authorities amend the municipality law for a local election in Pattaya.
Responding to criticism, particularly on social media regarding his controversial appointment, Mr Sontaya said he has read all the negative comments and instead of being discouraged, he said he saw them as a challenge to prove all his detractors wrong.
There is no need for him to react to those judging him since he can prove his worth through hard work and determination, he said.