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“The warning period is over,” Col Santi Sakuntanark, Commander of the 25th Infantry Regiment and the highest-ranking army officer stationed in Phuket, told The Phuket News today (August 25).
Soldiers, along with Navy personnel, police as well as officials from Patong Municipality and the Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO), launched the campaign quietly and politely on Aug 3, with nothing more than warnings. (See story here.)
However, that changed on Monday.
“On Monday, we found 22 vehicles parked in the wrong parking spaces. Since then we have found 18 vehicles parked in parking spaces reserved for the public each day,” Col Santi said today.
All of the drivers caught were fined B1,000 baht each, for each infraction, he confirmed.
“The warning period is over, no more requests. If they want to be fined at least B1,000 each time, let them be fined. Be neat and tidy, we are managing this problem,” Col Santi said.
Col Santi pointed out that three more taxi and tuk-tuk ranks, or “stands” as they are called in Thailand, were added to the original 21 allowed on Aug 3, bringing the total number of taxi, van and tuk-tuk ranks in Patong to 24.
Soldiers from the Royal Thai Army began their campaign against tuk-tuk, taxi and van drivers occupying public parking spaces in Patong in earnest this week with more than 76 drivers fined since Monday (Aug 21).
“We kept warning them since the campaign began, now that time is over. Any drivers who continue to ignore us will be nominated to have their commercial driver’s license revoked (by the PLTO),” he warned.
Speaking to The Phuket News yesterday, Patong Police Chief Col Tassanai Orarigadech repeated that the campaign to reclaim parking spaces for the public was a multi-agency effort, not just that of the Patong Police.
“Every arrest is considered fully before deciding to charge,” Col Tassanai added.
“We collect evidence and then officers consider each case before issuing any fines. Many drivers have complained about this to police. If they have ignored repeated warnings, they will be fined,” he explained.
One van driver who was fined on Tuesday (Aug 22) after being caught parked in a public parking space told The Phuket News, “I just was going to buy some food and water, but when I came back the front wheel of my van was chained and locked. It is really not fair.
“Police did not explain what they were doing, they didn’t even ask what I was doing. Then I had to pay B1,000 fine because I went to buy food. My friends were fined too,” said the driver, who asked not to be named.
Asked what he will do next, the driver said, “I have no excuse for breaking the rules, but it is just not fair for us and others who work in the transport industry, but there is nothing more I can go than put up with it.”