AS THE Songkran Festival ended yesterday and highways to the capital became congested, the Royal Thai Police (RTP) confirmed measures were in place to support the tens of thousands of people returning to Bangkok and to keep order, prevent crimes and intercept drugs and the smuggling of illegal items.
RTP deputy spokesman Pol Colonel Krissana Patanacharoen said 120,000 people would be returning by train yesterday and today, while many others would arrive at bus terminals and airports. Police were therefore beefing up security at these hubs to control traffic in the busiest areas and take action against taxi drivers refusing to take customers.
Meanwhile, traffic heading towards the capital saw higher volumes than normal as people began the long journey back to work. In the northern province of Lampang, provincial Disaster Prevention Office head Khomsan Suwan-ampa said the local Bangkok-bound road was jam-packed with 2,040 vehicles in one hour yesterday.
In neighbouring Chiang Mai province, three bus terminals added 30 extra Bangkok-bound bus trips to cater for 112,600 travellers.
Chiang Mai transport chief Chanchai Kilapaeng said the number of bus passengers was actually down 20 per cent from last Songkran due to many travellers opting for low-cost flights instead.
Paholyothin Road in Pathum Thani’s Khlong Luang district reported an increased number of cars yesterday, although the traffic was still able to move along at 80kph.
Mitraparp Highway in Nakhon Ratchasima province saw increased traffic with some congestion at bottlenecks and intersections, prompting police to open special lanes in Noen Sung and Pak Chong districts to ease the jams.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith led officials to inspect the road and traffic condition on the Highway No 3263 in Ayutthaya’s Bang Ban district following a multiple-vehicle pile-up there on Sunday evening that led to three deaths and 26 injuries. To prevent future crashes, the Highway Department planned to set up a three-kilometre-long barrier to clearly divide the traffic lanes there.
Arkhom also said a flyover would be built in two years at Worachet Intersection to ease traffic congestion and prevent accidents.
Another 30 people were injured in Ayutthaya’s Bang Pa-in district at 8.30am yesterday when an Ubon Ratchathani-Bangkok double-decker coach lost control at high speed on Paholyothin Highway and crashed into a roadside ditch.
The unnamed driver, who reportedly also had a minor collision with a car in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Pak Chong district on Sunday evening, fled the scene before police arrived.