Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Owner set to sell Siam Park

Owner set to sell Siam Park

Engineers move in to check cause of accident


The owner of Siam Park has announced he wants to sell the 28-year-old amusement park after the latest accident, in which a broken water slide injured 28 children.

On Saturday, a joint in the Super Spiral broke loose, tossing young children off the slide.

Some children plunged about five metres into the edge of the slide's pool.

The injured children were taken to Noparat Ratchathani Hospital.

Twenty-four of the 28 children were discharged yesterday. The other four remained under observation for head and back injuries.

Saturday's accident follows a fatality at the park in October, when the Indiana Log ride malfunctioned, causing the death of one woman and injuring several children.

Chaiwat Luangamornlert, the managing director of Amornphant Nakorn-Suan Siam Co Ltd, which owns Siam Park, said yesterday he was disheartened and wants to sell the business.

''Two accidents since late last year, and both were unforgivable,'' he said.

''In the first accident, one person died and this time a lot were injured. The accidents point to poor management.

''I've been running the park for 26 years, hoping it provides good fun and happiness to people.

''But now it's not a happy park any more. My park is causing problems for many people.

''Since I'm no longer capable of looking after my business, I'd better sell it,'' Mr Chaiwat said.

He is 70 years old.

He conceded that much of the equipment in the park was old, and the people in charge of maintenance might not be paying enough attention to its upkeep.

''I'm old too, and feel tired now. I'm not strong enough to walk around the park and watch over the staff the way I did before,'' he said.

The amusement park covers 300 rai of land. Mr Chaiwat estimated it to be worth about five billion baht.

He said a few investors from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam had earlier shown interest in buying the park.

After his decision to sell the business was reported yesterday, he had approaches from three local businessmen expressing interest in buying it.

One already operates a fun park, while the other two are yet to clearly identify themselves.

If the park could not be sold, Mr Chaiwat said he would set up the Luangamornlert Foundation to help disadvantaged people, especially children and the aged.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) said it would close down part of the park for 15 days for safety inspections. The rest, a theme park, would be open to the public as usual.

''We cannot close the entire park because the accident happened at only one single spot. We can only suspend the licence of the water slide. We cannot suspend the licences of 20 other pieces of equipment in the park,'' said Teeraboon Manupeerapan, director of Khan Na Yao district after meeting executives of Siam Park yesterday.

Today engineers for the BMA and the park will check the safety of the water slide and other equipment, starting with the oldest, installed about 15 years ago.

Forensic experts will be asked to find out why the water slide fell apart.

Last year the park made a safety assessment of all theme park equipment after the fatal accident at the Indiana Log ride _ one of the theme park's most popular attractions.

Mr Teeraboon said the safety assessment prepared by the park's engineers showed all machines were safe, including the water slide.

''The previous report confirmed this water slide was safe. So now we don't know how this accident happened,'' said Mr Teeraboon.

''We will start scrutinising each piece of equipment, starting with the oldest one and moving up to the newest,'' he said.

Accidents are not unusual at Siam Park _ now the oldest theme park in Thailand. Opened in 1980, the park was dubbed the ''lung of family people in Bangkok''. It includes a water park with another water slide as high as a seven-storey building.

No comments: