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Travellers forced to walk during a long blockade on Phuket's main road

Phuket Blockaders Arrested: Crackdown on Lawlessness Continues

Thursday, June 5, 2014
PHUKET: The days of blockades being the preferred protest for Phuket people with grievances may be over with the arrest today of the alleged ringleaders of three recent incidents.

Over a few weeks in March and April, taxi drivers blocked Patong's one-way system, protesters blocked Phuket's main highway close to the airport and residents blocked a major southern road in a safety campaign.

The arrests today are the first sign that blockades from now on will bring possible heavy penalties for ringleaders.

As the fresh arrests were being made, 91 people held yesterday and today over alleged offences relating to taxi and tuk-tuk monopolies were being trucked to Phuket Prison, where they will join thousands of others in extremely cramped conditions.

Four of those charged were allowed bail today for medical reasons, including the Mayor of Kata-Karon, Tawee Tongcham. Thirteen more arrests have yet to be made, according to the Region 8 Police Commander and Task Force Chief, Major General Panya Mamen.

Attention at Phuket Police headquarters in Phuket City today swung to the blockade arrests.

Ten people have been charged over the Thepkasattri Road protest, which blocked Phuket's main thoroughfare on April 23 from 3pm to 11.15pm and interfered with the lives of thousands of innocent travellers.

The protest was over claims that police had beaten up some suspects in the hunt for the perpetrators of a rape - claims that were later refuted.

Only one of the Mai Khao protesters was presented to the media today. Somsak Pasanphan, 41, a minivan driver, said he was not guilty, although the crowd used his van to block a section of the road. He said he arrived at the scene after the blockade had begun.

On April 27, residents near a sharp curve in ChaoFa Road West blockaded the street from 11.30am to 2pm in protest at the lack of safety. Sirichai Sangpraechaskul, 42, admitted taking part but had no regrets.

''Too many people have died or been injured and we just wanted to make the government take action to implement safety measures,'' he said. Two more people died on the curve soon after the protest.

At 9.30pm on March 4, taxi and tuk-tuk drivers blockaded the one-way system in Patong, bringing traffic to a halt, over the arrest of other drivers. The roads were not reopened until 6am. An hour later, the leaders of the blockade were arguing at Kathu Police Station that nobody should be arrested over the protest.

Jakkapong Lamsakul, 40, was arrested as the alleged ringleader at 3pm today in Kathu.

All those arrested face serious charges and long terms in jail if found guilty.

Major General Panya said he and other officials joined today in demolishing the salas and huts of 10 taxi ranks in Karon, four in Cherng Talay and two in Kamala. An order has gone out to councils across Phuket to demolish all huts on public land.

When asked today whether more arrests would be made in Patong, the leader of the investigation, Major General Praveen Pongsirin, said that the arrests so far had been the result of a three-month investigation.

To act in other parts of the island would require witnesses to come forward, as businesspeople had done in Karon, Cherng Talay and Kamala. His telephone number is 081 8936083.

Comments

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It's just getting better and better. Loving it...

Posted by Nicke on June 5, 2014 21:06

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About time, but we will know in the next 1-2 months what will happen to these people.
My guess is a fine for most, but I do hope Phuket proves me wrong.

Posted by Tbs on June 6, 2014 00:22

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They shouldn't be allowed to block the road and I'm not totally convinced it's much safer now (although the median bollards are a good idea and traffic does seem a little slower) but the residents protesting the curve at Wang Talang, between town and chalong, were only protesting about safety. Unlike the other 2 blockades which had a very mob mentality feel. I hope that is taken into consideration.

Posted by James on June 6, 2014 09:36

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This is a fresh breath of what Phuket needed most - law enforcement.

I can only hope it will be permanent and not just a window dressing exercise.

Please keep up the good work.

Posted by ThaiMike on June 6, 2014 12:35


Monday July 6, 2020
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