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Tougher measures planned to curb Songkran road mayhem


Drunkdriving offenders may be detained for 15 days or be manacled with electronic bracelets; north sees high traffic.

IN A BID to end the recurring scourge of road accidents and the huge number of fatalities during the long Songkran holidays, the government is implementing tougher measures, including a 15-day immediate detention or the use of electronic monitoring (EM) bracelets for those caught drunk driving. 

Tougher measures planned to curb Songkran road mayhem
Thailand is notorious for the high number of road accidents, with crashes and casualties reaching a tragic peak during long-holiday festivals such as Songkran. In 2017, the seven-day accident-monitoring period for Songkran reported a new high of 3,690 accidents compared to 3,447 in 2016 and 3,373 in 2015.
The Office of the Judiciary secretary-general, Sarawut Benjakul, yesterday said 5,000 EM bracelets had been arranged for those placed on probation for drunk-driving – people whose alcohol level at the time of arrest is 50-250mg per cent of alcohol. This will prevent them from going out between 10pm to 5am during the long holidays. 
The measure is to start on a pilot basis this Songkran in Don Muang and Phra Nakhon Nua court jurisdiction areas – known to have the most number of drunk-driving cases in the capital, he said. 
Those with an alcohol level at the time of arrest above 251mg will be locked up for 15 days at the Pathum Thani Central Detention, without bail, Don Muang Court head judge Prasert Lopradit said. 
After 15 days of detention or EM use on offenders, the two courts’ judges may consider giving an extended sentence of up to one year if the offenders had no remorse and showed a tendency to repeat the drunk driving offence.
Meanwhile, Metropolitan Police Bureau chief Lt-General Charnthep Sesawet vowed to beef up security at 11 spots designated for Songkran celebrations from April 11-18 and set up 137 checkpoints to ensure public safety. 
The 11 Songkran sites are: Lumpini Park, Silom Road, Khao San Road, Asiatique the Riverfront, Na Na Songkran Festival 2018, Patpong-Thaniya, CentralWorld, Siam Square, Chokchai Road 4, Royal City Avenue (RCA), and Songkran Music Festival 2018 on Rama IX Road. 

Tougher measures planned to curb Songkran road mayhem
As the police intelligence agency has not seen any security threats, he said the forces would focus on crime prevention, especially via patrol and quick response to incidents.
Charnthep also urged Songkran revellers to wear polite clothing and refrain from using high-pressure water guns, avoid drug abuse and drinking alcohol.
Meanwhile, Mitraparp Highway in the “Gateway to the Northeast” province of Nakhon Ratchasima yesterday reported a high number of holidaymakers’ vehicles heading to Isaan to celebrate Songkran in their hometown. 

Tougher measures planned to curb Songkran road mayhem
The congestion was particularly severe at Pak Chong, Si Kiew and Muang districts with some bottlenecks reporting two-kilometre-long traffic jams. Nakhon Ratchasima police deputy chief Pol Colonel Boonlert Wongwajana said they had opened an extra lane on the 15km-long section between Tambon Nong Sarai of Pak Chong to Tambon Khlong Phai in Si Kiew to ease congestion.
In Nakhon Phanom, the provincial bus station was crowded with travellers, most of them Laotian workers arriving from Bangkok heading across the border to the Thakhek border town in Khammouane province of Laos. 

Tougher measures planned to curb Songkran road mayhem
Extra cross-border bus trips between Nakhon Phanom and Khammouane were added to support the high volume of travellers during this period, said bus station head Thitinan Somboonrat. 
Similar crowding was also reported at the Customs checkpoint at a pier crossing the Mekong River and many workers were happy to be exempted from paying the usual Bt1,000 border fee. The Cabinet resolved on March 27 to waive the border pass fee for migrant workers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia from April 5-30.

Tougher measures planned to curb Songkran road mayhem
In the meantime, Chiang Mai Irrigation Office director Jensak Limpiti yesterday affirmed that a total of 186,000 cubic metres of water had been released into the Nakhon Chiang Mai Municipality Khu Muang canal, which surrounds the old city area, so the water quality was safe for the water splashing associated with the Songkran Festival.

Published : April 11, 2018

By : THE NATION