As part of a larger effort to provide housing for the Andaman region’s indigenous people, an official is promising to provide sea gypsies with housing in Phuket and other Andaman areas. The official, Deputy PM and Minister of Commerce Jurin Laksanawisit, made the announcement yesterday while visiting a sea gypsy village.
Jurin has been in the news recently, as leader of the Democrat party, as the party copes with an internal crisis over alleged sexual misconduct of the deputy leader Prinn Panitchpakdi. The Democrats have always seen the southern provinces, especially Phuket, as one of their core supporter bases.
Sea Gypsies are a semi-nomadic tribe who live in Thai coastal provinces and inhabit over 800 islands in the Andaman Sea. These days they number less than 3,000 people. They have lived in the region for centuries. Jurin said he has specific 5 year goals for housing the sea gypsies across the 6 Andaman provinces of Ranong, Phang Nga, Phuket, Krabi, Trang and Satun.
Jurin wants to provide 2,376 housis in Ranong, 4,930 houses in Phang Nga, 2,241 houses in Phuket, 6,260 houses in Krabi, 5,470 houses in Trang, and 4,887 houses in Satun. Altogether, 26,164 houses. Jurin claims the ongoing project has already provided 120,000 houses to indigenous people in the past decade. He added that there is an ultimate goal of 1 million houses.
Jurin said that the housing initiative, which started in 1997, intends to help people who don’t have homes, or live in dilapidated houses. He said that the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, along with Community Organisations Development Institute, would work to improve conditions in the areas.
“…will help to make roads and provide electricity and water and other utilities to such areas, and help secure loans for houses…”
Last year, the Royal Thai Army set up a food kitchen for sea gypsies is Rawai, a town on the southeast coast of Phuket.