Fri, January 28, 2022

in-focus

Phuket tries to tackle Patong tourist bus crashes


As an urgent measure to boost road safety, the island province of Phuket will extend the time period until 11pm when large vehicles are banned from using Patong Mountain Road following three recent tourist bus crashes in the area.

Such vehicles are currently banned from the road from 4pm until 8pm.
To boost public confidence and prevent the loss of life and property, Governor Norapat Plodthong called a meeting on Tuesday to set short and long-term measures to tackle the problem. 
Phuket police chief Pol Maj-General Theerapol Thipcharoen said later on Tuesday that the first measure would be to extend the ban until 11pm, which would be formally announced this week with a 15-day trial period to assess impacts. 
People had expressed worries that the ban would lead to more tour buses on Karon and Kamala roads, increasing risks there, he said, so authorities might consider applying the prohibition to all three roads. 
Theerapol added that authorities might also only allow tourist vans, and not buses, to use Patong Road, which would be discussed in detail with bus operators, who reportedly said they would agree but needed an adjustment period.
The governor also assigned the provincial clerk to engage in discussions with low-cost services that used inter-provincial buses to address their problems, Theerapol said.
Phuket transport chief Banyat Khantha said his office would check buses’ conditions when operators applied for annual car tax renewals and during six-month check-ups. 
Bus drivers who are not from Phuket would be required to watch a 15-minute video about driving safely on Patong Road, which would be posted on social media and sent to bus associations, he said. 
The video would also be used in the provincial land transport office’s training of driver’s licence applicants, he added.
As a long-term solution, buses from other provinces would be required to tell officers at the Tha Chat Chai checkpoint if they planned to use Patong Road. If they did, drivers would have to undergo training and watch the video as well as have their brake systems checked to get an approval stamp, Banyat said.
Other long-term measures discussed included the installation of data-reading devices and CCTV cameras at checkpoints and on buses allowed on the route.
In the past three months, there have been three tourist bus crashes on the downhill section of Patong Road. A June 29 night incident saw a bus transporting Chinese tourists collide with a motorbike before crashing into a concrete wall, resulting in the death of the motorcycle rider Rattana Sukpisal and 30 injured tourists. 
Another July 10 night incident saw a bus transporting Chinese tourists overturned, killing a 10-year-old boy and his 36-year-old father, and injuring 23 Chinese tourists and a Thai tour guide. 
On Sunday, a bus carrying Chinese tourists struck a passenger van and a tuk-tuk, resulting in four injuries. 

Published : August 08, 2017

By : Salinee Prap The Nation