SURAT THANI – The driver of a speeding van, together with the vehicle’s owner, will be During the journey back to the resort island, she continued, the driver drove dangerously fast. A picture posted on her account showed the dashboard speedometer at 130 kilometers per hour. and punished by provincial land transport officials after an online complaint by a passenger.
Manop Sutthipong, the Surat Thani land transport office chief, said on Sunday van owner Chanranong Boonjui and driver Watchayan Yongbangtrai will be ordered to the office.
The owner will be fined for violating public safety and failing to turn on the GPS device on the vehicle, while the driver will be suspended from the wheel for 30 days, the official said.
He did not give details of the punishment to be slapped on the owner, and did not address a further complaint that the ticket was overpriced.
The incident came to light in a post by Pimpaka Ritraksai on her Facebook account on Friday.
She and a companion had bought a van ticket from Phuket to Surat Thani for 200 baht each, she wrote. On her return journey on Friday, she had to pay 350 baht for each ticket – a 75% rise – at the terminal in Surat Thani.
Her travel companion asked the ticket seller about the different ticket price and the answer was that “it’s different,” Ms Pimpaka wrote.
During the journey back to the resort island, she continued, the driver drove dangerously fast. A picture posted on her account showed the dashboard speedometer at 130 kilometres per hour.
“He overtook one vehicle after another as if we were on a racing circuit,” said Ms Pimpaka, who sat in the front compartment beside the driver. “He drove so fast I did not dare close my eyes.”
Watchayan Yongbangtrai berates a foreign passenger who complained he was driving too fast. (Video from Pimpaka Ritraksai Facebook account)
Foreigners sitting in the rear compartment told Mr Watchayan to slow down for the safety of the passengers. The driver reportedly became angry and told them that if he drove slowly, they wouldn’t get to Phuket till the next day. If they were scared, he said, they were free to get out of the van.
Surat Thani is about 280 kilometres from Phuket.
After the foreigners continued to complain about the van’s speed, Mr Watchayan pulled over, walked around to open the passenger door and berated them.
“You see. Thai people no worry,” the driver tells them in the recorded video clip. “Are you worried? Oh, my god…you okay?”
Ms Pimpaka wrote that the incident was quite traumatic. “I felt the pressure. I looked at the faces of the foreigners, they were scared,” she wrote.
“For me, at that point, it was like a nightmare,” she added.
She posted another message on Sunday to thank officials for taking action against the driver.
Supapong Chaolan and Saritdet Marukatat
The Bangkok Post