YALA – Teachers are up in arms over the way the driver of a van taking 26 young students home after school was arrested at a security checkpoint on Thursday, saying the 26 children were left traumatized by the terrifying experience.
The van was carrying 26 young pupils, one teacher and the driver, (yes 28 people in a mini Van) when it was stopped by rangers and border patrol police at a security checkpoint in front of Wat Ban Bohin in tambon Ban Rae of Than To district around 4.10pm on Thursday.
According to the Bangkok Post, they first ordered the driver, Arlee Yiman, out of the vehicle, suspecting him of involvement in the bombing of power poles at several locations in the southern border district.
Then, noticing all the children, they told him to get back in and behind the wheel. Two officers also got in the van and Mr Arlee was ordered to drive all the students and the teacher home, after which he was taken to the police station.
Mr Arlee would later be taken to Ingkhayut Borihan military camp in Pattani’s Nong Chik district for further interrogation.
The entire operation caused panic among the youngsters on board the van, said a teacher at Sutthisartwitthaya school who declined to be named. Some of the children had been reduced to tears.
Panic-stricken children returned home telling their parents they dared not go back to school.
Teachers and the school director gathered at the district hall later on Thursday, calling on military authorities to explain the incident, the teacher said.
On Friday, five of the students who had been in the van were absent from class.
All teachers understood that the rangers and police were doing their duty, however they needed to take into consideration the psychological impact on the young students, said the teacher.
Mr Arlee was hired to provide a service, taking the students to and from school. He picked them up at their homes in the morning and after setting them down at school he went to teach Islam at a school in Than To. In the afternoon, he drove the van taking the students back to their homes.
The teacher wondered why the authorities did not arrest the driver at his home.
Pol Lt Col Chetthawit Neerahing, commander of the 44th border patrol police task force, said Mr Arlee was detained under the emergency decree on suspicion of involvement a string of bomb blasts that damaged power poles at several locations in Yala.
The stop-search-and-seize operation was being investigated, he said.
Editors Note: It seems the School Director, the Teachers were more concerned about the psychological welfare of the children rather than their physical welfare.
One might think, cramming 26 children and two adults (one a teacher) into a Mini Van with a legal seating capacity of 14 might be of some concern for the children’s safety?
In November 2017, after a horrific school bus accident, the prime minister instructed the Education Ministry to make sure that schools under its supervision take proper safety measures to control the drivers and the condition of the buses.
Thai government passed a law on 11 May 2014 that required passengers in public transport such as buses and vans to wear their seat belts. Any passengers found to be in violation of the law will be fined 5,000 baht.
Below are some examples of why safety belts should be mandatory in all school buses in Thailand.
Students Thrown from a School Bus in Krabi, Thailand
Girls Falls out of School Bus in Chiang Rai