Netizens cry foul: Thai govt accused of stealing bridge-building thunder (video)Legacy

Thai netizens accused the government under Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin of stealing the spotlight from two foreigners who raised funds to build a bridge for children to cross in Koh Phayam, an island in the southern province of Ranong.

A viral image circulating on social media recently captured the attention of many, showing children in school uniforms wading through a shallow canal while clutching their school bags above the water. The photo highlighted an unfinished bridge nearby, its old structure indicating prolonged neglect.

These children, residents of the Morgan community on the island, must navigate the canal daily to reach school. In the absence of a proper bridge, they rely on a makeshift wooden raft, which proves inadequate and often capsises, leaving the children to begin their day in soaked uniforms.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that over half of the residents in the Morgan area lack Thai nationality and consequently do not receive any welfare support.

A member of the People’s Movement for a Just Society (P-Move), Jamnong Jitnirat, who posted the picture on social media, clarified that the children had to use a wooden raft to cross the canal. Jamnong added that the raft is not strong enough to carry many people and often flips over leaving the children soaked to the skin.

Jamnong implored PM Srettha to take heed of the plight facing the children and locals in the area, highlighting that the bridge had remained unfinished for over a decade due to contractual issues and the lack of permission from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.

Bridge completion

A Facebook page about natural resources conservation, Monsoon Garbage Thailand (ขยะมรสุม ᴍᴏɴsᴏᴏɴɢᴀʀʙᴀɢᴇ ᴛʜᴀɪʟᴀɴᴅ) shared the good news about the bridge three days ago, January 30, that the construction of the bridge for the students and locals was finished.

The page shared a picture of the bridge with a caption read…

“No more risk.”

Phue Thai Party MP Rinthipond Varinvatchara shared a video of the students walking on the bridge to school with a caption that said…

“I feel happy for them. They walk to school on the bridge very happily. The bridge at Koh Phayam in Ranong Province is finally ready to use! Thank PM Srettha for paying attention to the issue and immediately solving it.”

PM Srrettha also reposted the video and explained that this was just a temporary bridge to facilitate the locals, and the Cabinet would seek permission to build a concrete bridge for them later. He also thanked the Ministry of Interior for coordinating with the private sector and providing parts of the budget for the temporary bridge.

The 61 year old Thai PM did not mention how much the Interior Ministry provided for the bridge and did not mention where the rest of the budget came from.

Bridge budget

The Monsoon Garbage Thailand Facebook page claimed that the budget for the bridge construction came from a fundraising campaign started by a foreign teacher named Fiona. The page shared a receipt of the equipment purchased for the bridge and cautioned against the government claiming credit for its success.

This information stirred controversy on Thai social media, with some accusing the government of stealing the spotlight, and others demanding a clear clarification on the matter.

In response, Rinthipond clarified that two foreigners Van Wyk and Fiona Parsons donated 670,000 baht for the construction, with additional donations of more than 100,000 baht from anonymous donors.

Rinthipond said she thanked PM Srettha because he followed up on the project and quickened up the permission for the temporary bridge.

The story Netizens cry foul: Thai govt accused of stealing bridge-building thunder (video) as seen on Thaiger News.

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Author: Petch Petpailin