On October 22nd 2013 at POC room of Phuket Provincial Hall, Phuket Governor – Mr. Maitri Inthusut officially accepted a complaint from Mr. Samarn Bamrungna, headman of Ban Bang La village, Moo 8, Tambon Pa Klok, lodged by residents of Tambon Pa Klok. The residents are protesting against a certain businessperson who allegedly encroached the entrance and exit of Ban Bang La fishing pier, which, according to the fishermen, is a public road long used by the community. The meeting was attended by PPAO Chief Executive Officer – Mr. Paiboon Upattising and other relevant government sectors.
Mr. Samarn informed the meeting that the said businessperson had recently installed a metal grill across the road in question blocking entry to the pier and making it difficult for local fishermen to work and earn a living. According to Mr. Samarn, this businessperson has already taken 15 village leaders to court because of the land dispute near the pier. The court overruled the case on June 16, 2012, but the person still closed off the road. Later, the same individual has applied for a new land title for the same plot and added more land to the new deed. The said businessperson succeeded in obtaining land titles even if though the land in question is part of a mangrove area. This, Mr. Samarn believed, was done in preparation for a future sale. Therefore he requested the authorities at the meeting investigate whether the land titles issued were legal.
Mr. Paiboon explained that the dispute has been ongoing since 2001 when he was still Phuket Senate, during which time he helped bail out many villagers. The dispute went to court, which later ruled that the land title (Nor Sor 3) was illegal because the land was actually a public space. The Nor Sor 3 was therefore made null and void.
Mr. Paiboon continued that the incident took place more than ten years ago. Meanwhile, the villagers have rebuilt and reinstated the path and made it public again, the action Mr. Paiboon believed was an initiative worth commending and a mark of a strong community. As the people rely on this route to fish to make a living, Mr. Paiboon expected that the Provincial authorities will work with relevant government sectors such as the Land Office, the Forestry Office, and Amphoe Talang Administration Office, to investigate and to prevent public land encroachment.
Phuket Governor Mr. Maitri said provincial authorities will set up a committee with selected members from all relevant government sectors to investigate and bring justice to both parties involved in the dispute. The committee, he said, would look into the closure of the path and also inspect the land titles. He would also invite villager representatives to join the inspection team. The villagers were satisfied with the outcome of the meeting.