Former construction worker is now homeless, living in a pipe, and unemployed due to Covid-19 restrictions in Pattaya, tells his story

Pattaya –

A former construction worker who is now laid off and unemployed due to Covid-19 related measures and restrictions that have essentially shut most major construction projects in Chonburi was found living in a concrete pipe near a road in Pattaya recently.

Pictures of the man’s “home” were shared on Thai social media and reporters from The Pattaya News went to speak with him over the weekend along with officials from local welfare groups. The man was happy to share his story of how he was dealing with the current situation in Chonburi.

Mr. Jamnong Innom, 50, lives in the cement pipe seen below near Sukhumvit Road in Naklua. He sleeps on old bed mattresses inside the cement pipe with only a few personal belongings to his name.

Jamnong told The Pattaya News, “I was a construction worker locally for many years. I used to have a good income for myself and my family, a nice place to live, overall life was good. Then, Covid-19 and related measures and restrictions mandated by the government to attempt to control it hit.”

“After the Covid -19 pandemic, I became unemployed and homeless. During last year’s long shutdown and the short one (January), earlier this year, I was largely unaffected. Construction workers were allowed to continue their work. However, the recent round of infections in Thailand has decimated the construction industry in Chonburi. Most projects have been suspended, most construction camps are on lockdown and the workers still there cannot leave if they wanted to. Many workers, including myself, were let go over the past few months and told that when the situation improves we can come back to work. For now. I collect old items to sell and to survive, waiting for restrictions to ease so I can return to work.” Jamnong stated.

TPN media notes that construction is not “banned” per se, but as Jamnong stated, nearly all significant projects have been shut down and most major construction camps still in operation have been placed under so-called bubble and seal measures, in which workers living there, mostly migrants, cannot leave regardless of Covid-19 status. Even a few cases of Covid-19 generally result in construction camps and projects shut down entirely temporarily by the Chonburi Governor, leaving only a few essential workers and small-scale projects to still take place. This has, of course, resulted in an estimate of thousands of workers laid off until the situation improves.

Making the matters worse, there has been very little (to no) financial aid programs from the central government, according to Jamnong, for construction workers who have lost their jobs due to no fault of their own.

.”This concrete pipe is a place for me to live now. Many kind people give food to me but I don’t want to be a trouble for anyone. I don’t really want charity. I don’t really want handouts. I simply want the ability to go back to work to earn a living. But due to Covid-19, there is no work anywhere in Chonburi and nobody is hiring.  Is it so bad to just want to have the opportunity to work for an income and living?” Jamnong stated.

” I understand that Covid-19 is very serious and many people have got seriously sick. However, is the current plan working? Everything is closed, many people have no home, the situation in Pattaya is very bad right now.” Jamnong concluded.

Chonburi hit a new record high today of Covid-19 cases, August 4th, 2021, despite the strict rules, measures, and restrictions in place, meaning that it is unlikely easing of rules and allowing people to return to work will happen anytime soon.

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Goongnang Suksawat
Goong Nang is a News Translator who has worked professionally for multiple news organizations in Thailand for many years and has worked with The Pattaya News for more than four years. Specializes primarily in local news for Phuket, Pattaya, and also some national news, with emphasis on translation between Thai to English and working as an intermediary between reporters and English-speaking writers. Originally from Nakhon Si Thammarat, but lives in Phuket and Krabi except when commuting between the three.