HIGHWAYS leading to the North and Northeast became more congested than usual this weekend as many people working in Bangkok and nearby provinces made early journeys to their hometowns for the upcoming Songkran Festival.
Police and related agencies set up checkpoints to look for those violating traffic laws or Article 44-backed road safety regulations such as the requirement for public transport vans to have all passengers wearing seatbelts – punishable at up to Bt5,000 per head.
Public transport hubs saw throngs of travellers while buses and trains were packed. As part of the 4th “Police in Train” campaign, a 30-strong combined police team inspected all trains at Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong train station.
Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat), dubbed the Gateway to Northeast, experienced higher traffic volume on roads. Some sections such as the uphill stretch in Tambon Klangdong of Pak Chong district and another section in Tambon Klong Phai of Sikhieo district became particularly congested. Police said they expected that traffic conditions would be worst on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Korat transport office, which had increased the number of bus trips to 400 a day, yesterday fined two public transport operators Bt5,000 each for allegedly taking advantage of passengers. The two separate complaints were filed by Thai users on Facebook; one over a bus operator’s unfair refusal to sell ticket to a short-journey passenger and the other over a bus ticket seller who almost doubled a passenger’s fare.
Korat also opened a road safety centre at Pak Chong and joined the Miracle of Life Foundation to promote an awareness campaign in the hope of reducing the number of Songkran road casualties. Last Songkran, there were 3,447 road accidents nationwide which claimed 442 lives. Most cases stemmed from drunk driving and speeding.
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith launched a road safety campaign in Ayutthaya’s wang Noi district in a bid to reduce Songkran road fatalities to under 10 per 100,000 of population.
Ayutthaya police issued a regulation to ban pickup trucks loaded with water tanks, people and water guns on five roads around the city’s heritage site as safety precaution during Thursday and Friday. They included two sections of Highway 309, a section of Highway 3263, Klong Sa Bua and Hua Ro-Pa Niad roads.
With more vehicles on roads to the South |yesterday, officials warned motorists using the Ranong-Chumphon road of 17 bends and 29 |accident-prone spots in Ranong.
Meanwhile, Songkhla’s Hat Yai district was buzzing yesterday with foreign tourists and Thai workers who returned for visits on packed Singapore-Malaysia-Hat Yai buses ahead of the Hat Yai Midnight Songkran Festival from Tuesday to Thursday. The event was expected to generate over Bt200 million in Hat Yai where hotels were fully booked.
Songkhla police joined with the provincial transport office to set up 33 alcohol checkpoints during Songkran. As well as making strict checks to catch any law-breaking motorists, they will dispatch 31 mobile police teams, each equipped with breathalysers, to patrol secondary roads and party areas to punish drunk drivers.