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Tweet forces Suvarnabhumi immigration to explain long lines

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Tweet forces Suvarnabhumi immigration to explain long lines | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Travel Daily Media

“Suvarnabhumi hell for tourists. Look at queues today. Never seen this long.”

In response to English-language teacher Andrew Biggs complaining about the long queues at Suvarnabhumi Airport, the Immigration Bureau says it had already mobilised more personnel to facilitate immigration clearance.

Biggs, the owner of Andrew Biggs Academy and co-director of andrewbiggs.com, an English language-learning website for Thais, posted a Twitter message in Thai on Wednesday: “Suvarnabhumi hell for tourists. Look at queues today. Never seen this long.”

“Several counters are closed during rush hours. Don’t understand.”

The day after Biggs posted another Twitter message in Thai.

“Suvarnabhumi is not hell but it is the gateway to our beloved Thailand. Yesterday, I was very dissatisfied with what I saw because I was worried about Thailand’s image in the eyes of foreign tourists who have just arrived. I would like to ask the authorities to consider this issue and I believe we could solve it.”

Pol Colonel Choengron Rimpadee, deputy commander of Immigration Police Division 2 and spokesman of the division, responded yesterday saying he ordered an inquiry into the issue. He noted that Biggs had arrived at the same time as 44 flights with 4,500 passengers between noon and 2pm.

“Immigration Police Division 2 always mobilises all its immigration officers to be stationed at all counters in all zones to speed up clearance of arriving passengers when many flights arrive at the same time.”

Each immigration officer is in charge of carrying out seven steps for immigration clearance: checking each passenger’s face with the passport photo, checking visas, checking possible blacklisting, scanning fingerprints, taking a photo, stamping the entry approval, and interviewing the passenger. He said each immigration officer took about 50 seconds to handle a passenger’s clearance.

“During rush hours, the immigration counters at Suvarnabhumi Airport could clear about 2,000 passengers within an hour, but the immigration officers also had to be on alert for foreign criminals trying to pass themselves off as tourists, and many passengers were not allowed to enter the Kingdom.”

He said their inquiry found that Biggs had waited for about an hour to pass through an immigration counter.

He said Biggs used a Bus gate, coming by a bus from his plane to the arrival terminal at 1.01pm. He said Biggs started waiting in his queue at 1.06pm and he passed through the counter at 2:06pm.

Choengron said the hall where Biggs had waited for immigration clearance could accommodate some 500 passengers but some 20 flights arrived at nearly the same time and hence more than 1,200 passengers had to wait in queues in the hall, causing the lines to extend beyond the hall.

He added that officials managed to shorten the lines within 30 minutes.

A spokesperson for the Immigration Police Division 2 added that the bureau had contingency plans to handle the overwhelming number of passengers arriving at the same time. For example, officials resting after their shifts are called in urgently to help, and volunteers are also called in to advise passengers on filling the immigration forms.

The spokesman said the bureau appreciated Biggs’s concerns and would invite him for consultation and his opinions would be referred to when the bureau consults with other concerned agencies on how to deal with long queues at the airport.

(The Thaiger notes that the additional process of taking imprints from each finger and the thumbs adds another 20-30 seconds to the processing time of each passenger)

Original story: The Nation

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ASEAN

Bangkok and Nonthaburi to get 2 extra holidays during ASEAN summit

May Taylor

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Bangkok and Nonthaburi to get 2 extra holidays during ASEAN summit | The Thaiger

November 4 and 5 have been approved as official holidays for Bangkok and Nonthaburi as a result of the 35th Asean Summit and Related Summits being held at Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani in Bangkok.

Deputy government spokeswoman Traisulee Traisoranakul confirmed yesterday that the measure was being taken in an effort to alleviate traffic problems in both areas during the summit, adding that other state enterprises and the Bank of Thailand could implement the holidays for their subsidiaries at their own discretion and on a case-by-case basis.

“Government agencies in Bangkok and Nonthaburi will stop working on these dates. Meanwhile, state enterprises and the Bank of Thailand will consider announcing November 4 and 5 as holidays for their subsidiaries on case-by-case basis.”

“However, government agencies which have a necessity to provide urgent or previously scheduled services to their clients that cannot be postponed may stay open on November 4 and 5, depending on the decision by the heads of these departments.”

Some other public or regional holidays coming up…

Bangkok and Nonthaburi to get 2 extra holidays during ASEAN summit | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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Bangkok

Colourful European ecstasy tablets targeting Thai youth

The Thaiger

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Colourful European ecstasy tablets targeting Thai youth | The Thaiger
PHOTO:

The Narcotics Control Board are warning about cartoon-character labelled ecstasy pills that are being smuggled from Europe and heading for Thailand and a growing market of younger users. Some of the colourful pills had been cast as characters from Minions movies and The Simpsons.

The Office of the Narcotics Control Board deputy secretary-general Niyom Termsrisook told reporters about the ecstasy pills following the arrest of a woman in Pathum Thani, just north of Bangkok, last week. The woman was arrested with about 28,000 cartoon-character ecstasy pills on October 8. Niyom said they had been tracked back to a European supplier.

“The pills were produced in France and the Netherlands. Drug dealers have also been expanding their markets to south east Asia. The drugs are smuggled through airports in Cambodia and Vietnam.”

“The pills are stored in Cambodia before being smuggled through natural border passages to Thailand.

Niyom alleged the smugglers were victims of human traffickers hired by African traffickers.

He said that local sellers of the ecstasy pills are targeting young pub goers as the drugs have a sex-stimulant property.

A source at the ONCB said a quantity of cartoon-character ecstasy pills was earlier seized at Suvarnabhumi airport in the capital. The pills were smuggled from the Netherlands where they were priced at 60 baht per pill.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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Bangkok

Thai High Speed Railway linking airports now to be signed off on October 25

The Thaiger

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Thai High Speed Railway linking airports now to be signed off on October 25 | The Thaiger

The State Railway of Thailand and the Charoen Pokphand Group-led consortium are putting pen to paper and signing the contract for the high-speed train project on October 25.

The much-discussed high speed railway will link Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and U-Tapao international airports. The new SRT board was approved by the Thai cabinet today.

Deputy PM Anutin Charnvirakul says he is confident the contract will now be signed, adding that he has already met with Supachai Chearavanont, CEO of the CP group, and assured him of the government’s full cooperation and support.

The Charoen Pokphand-led consortium won the bid to develop the 224-billion baht high-speed train infrastructure as a signature project for the government’s flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) high-tech investment hub. The train service is scheduled to be operational in 2024 (The Thaiger is taking bets now).

Recently, however, the CP-led consortium raised concerns over land expropriation and eviction problems and asked for the government to share the risk on this issue. The Transport Ministry has already rejected the request putting the onus on CP as part of the proposal.

Mr. Anutin explained that, in any large infrastructure project involving expropriation of land, it is usual for the government or state agency not to be able to hand over the land to the contractor all at once. In such cases, the contracted completion date can be moved back.

He said the CP-led consortium should proceed with the high-speed train project without further delay because 70% of the land is ready to be handed over.

Meanwhile, the deputy PM admits that he didn’t know why the entire SRT board resigned en masse, delaying the signing of the contract, and denied that he had put pressure on the board to quit. He also denied that Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, also of the Bhumjaithai party, objected to the SRT board’s mass resignation because the latter wanted the contract to be signed quickly.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

Thai High Speed Railway linking airports now to be signed off on October 25 | News by The Thaiger

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