Expats and tourists fleeing stinking garbage mountain on Thailand's Koh Tao island

Published:  8 Sep at 6 PM
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Tagged: Thailand
Tourists on holidays in Thailand’s Koh Tao island are packing their bags and leaving due to the appalling stench from a 45,000 ton mountain of decaying garbage.

Visitors expecting glorious weather, beautiful beaches and a fun nightlife are departing in droves, and expat residents are closing their doors and windows before taking off to visit friends in other parts of Thailand. Continuous monsoon rains are washing the rotting garbage onto roads, and the vile stench is everywhere.

The garbage mountain has been increasing by around 40 tons per day for three weeks, since the holiday island’s incinerator broke down. Repairs aren’t being done as the contract between the municipality and the incinerator’s operating company expired a month ago and wasn’t renewed. When asked why the company hadn’t been re-employed, a local official said it had been mismanaging the garbage and not fulfilling the terms of the contract.

The same official insisted arrangements were being made to deal with the ever-increasing size of the garbage mountain, stating the cost would run at around six million baht. When asked for details and a timeline, the official refused to comment, saying the problem would be the subject of a discussion involving the army.

A former employee of the company responsible for the incinerator told local media that payment for the work had not been received form the local authority, resulting in workers not being paid for three months. At that point, the company ceased to provide the service. Another worker added his boss had told employees to wait for payment, then disappeared to the mainland along with all his belongings.

The putrid rubbish is now having an effect on residents beyond that of an obnoxious smell. Local people are complaining of itchy rashes and clouds of insects are feeding off the decaying rubbish. Both expats and locals are worried for their health, and businesses dependent on tourism fear they will be forced to close.

Koh Tao’s tourism industry took a hit in 2014 after the rape and murder of young British tourists Hannah Witheridge and David Miller. Two Burmese immigrant workers were accused of the murders, and have since been sentenced to death. However, their arrest and sentencing remain controversial.
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