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BMA backs down to allow Khaosan traders, sort of…

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BMA backs down to allow Khaosan traders, sort of… | The Thaiger
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by Kornrawee Panyasuppakun

“From around 9pm to 3am, backpackers use Khaosan as “party central”, rather than a shopping fair. Electronic dance beats can be heard blaring from clubs and bars.”

There’s been a back down in the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration yesterday after vendors from Khaosan Road convinced a committee that their stalls, whilst illegal in the past, were a huge attraction and a part of what made Khaosan Road famous.

Visitors and street vendors claim that tourists will desert the area, or even Bangkok, if daytime stalls are not restored. say

The world-famous Bangkok destination attracts hordes of international youth with offers of street food, beer and a chaotic, lively nightlife. Just about everything and anything is available at all times of the day.

However, the municipal authority wants to bring order to the late-night ‘carnivalesque’ atmosphere.

Since August 1, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has strictly enforced the rarely-used Public Cleanliness and Orderliness Act 1992, which forbids daytime street vending. Under the recent sweep, the street stalls have been banned from doing business in front of guesthouses, cars, cafes and shops during the day.

City Hall’s plan only allows the previous daytime vendors to hawk their goods and services on the road from 6pm until midnight. The BMA is expected to allow vendors to hawk their wares from 4pm next month onwards.

The plan, however, isn’t popular with tourists and shoppers. The authorities are now working to solve this roblem with a public hearing to allow street vendors and store owners to air their views.

 

Along both sides of the road, carts and stalls are lined up, offering late eaters pad Thai and mango sticky rice. Several smiling hawkers offer “laughing gas” or a crispy fried scorpion. Local and foreign partygoers flock the street daily.

“It’s my first time here in Khaosan. I’d heard that it’s brilliant and fantastic,” said Matthew Bechus, as he and a friend tuck into Thai delicacies at a stall nearby. “Now that the footpaths have been cleared, it’s sad. It’s a big tourist attraction and brings income for people and jobs and everything. I hope it comes back.”

Russel Green, a tourist from South Africa said the new Khaosan was nothing special.

“If they clear out all the stalls, there will no longer be a reason to come to Khaosan,” he said. Green and his friend were “disappointed” while strolling through the area in the afternoon.

“I would say tourists under the age of 30 visiting Thailand only come to Bangkok to visit Khaosan Road. Without Khaosan, they will have no reason to visit Bangkok. They will go straight to Phuket,” he predicted.

Under the new restrictions, Khaosan Road now looks like any other place in Thailand. While most of the 30-million annual visitors are foreign, not all choose to stay in the area’s hostels, guesthouses and hotels.

Rujira Raokhekit, a Thai who came with her boyfriend, said: “I have been here many times at night for parties. I don’t usually come to Khaosan during the day, but I think today it is quieter than before.”

The peak selling hours for vendors and stall owners used to be from 2pm to 5.30pm, vendors said. After 8pm, people usually come for food, music and beer.

When daytime trading was banned, Bangkok officials allowed them to set up stalls from 6pm, which vendors say will only give them three hours to sell their goods.

“After that, the music is too loud and the crowd is not in the mood for shopping,” said Sukwasa Kurattana-sinchai, who has been selling T-shirts on Khaosan since the Tom Yum Kung crisis hit Thailand in 1997.

“Most of our customers are backpackers who came to stay in budget guesthouses. They often travel light and come here specifically to buy comfy cotton pants and sleeveless T-shirts to wear for their whole trip,” Sukwasa said, as she waved at a group of backpackers.

She said that from about 8am until late afternoon, Chinese tourists would normally drop by Khaosan after visiting the Grand Palace and enjoy an hour-long shopping spree. Most foreign tourists visit Khaosan in the morning for souvenirs before their flights home in the afternoon.

Most vendors believe that clearing out the stalls is a bad move.

“The prices in shops are usually high, which is probably why the stalls are banned in the afternoon,” said another vendor as he waited to set up his bag stall at 6pm. “Now you see most tourists walking without any shopping bags.”

If the ban continues, tourists will not bother to visit Khaosan, he said. “They won’t even stay close to Khaosan. Why should they? There is nothing to buy during the day. They could book a hotel in Pratunam or Bo Bae [two famous shopping districts a half-hour ride from Khaosan] and take a tuk-tuk to Khaosan for the nightlife,” he said.

Bangkok deputy governor Sakoltee Phattiyakul said after a meeting with related agencies on Friday that to help solve the problem, the BMA will draft a regulation allowing Khaosan vendors to trade from 4pm until midnight.

The regulation will includes pavement trading in nearby streets of Banglamphu such as Rambutri, Chakrabongse, Krai Sri, Sip Sam Hang and Tani.

Over the next 10 days, Phra Nakhon district will collect opinions from street vendors and building owners. “All vendors must register with Commerce Ministry. We will make it legal and transparent,” he said.

“We are trying to find the middle ground for everyone. The street vendors can’t have everything. They can’t expect to use the footpaths all day.”

He added that the vendors must not block the footpaths and stalls can be no bigger than 1.5 square metres.

“We will also ensure that there is one stall per vendor,” Sakoltee said in response to claims by Bangkok officials that some vendors owned as many as seven stalls.

Yada Pornoetrumpa, president of Khaosan Road Street Vendors Association, said: “The officials don’t understand the situation of Khaosan. Many vendors trade in the daytime.

“Ideally, I want Khaosan Road to open 24 hours. They think vendors are greedy. But actually, stalls could help look after the street’s hygiene.”

STORY: The Nation

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Thailand

1 killed, 20 injured in gas pipe explosion in Samut Prakan

Caitlin Ashworth

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1 killed, 20 injured in gas pipe explosion in Samut Prakan | The Thaiger
PHOTO: mthai

A gas pipe explosion at a Samut Prakan industrial site killed 1 and injured 20 others. Flames burst in the air and those at homes in the province’s Bang Bo district fled the area. At this time, there’s been 1 confirmed death, an elderly bedridden woman, but Thai media reports there could be another death.

Around 40 to 50 fire engines were called to the scene to extinguish the fire at the site near Wat Preng Ratbanrung on Thepparat-Lat Krabang Road. The mayor of the tambon Preng administration organisation reported the incident in a broadcast on the traffic radio station JS100.

The gas pipe that exploded leads to the large-scale Asia Industrial Estate Suvarnabhumi, according to the senior executive vice president of PTT’s gas business unit.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

Government lifts Bangkok’s State of Emergency

Caitlin Ashworth

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Government lifts Bangkok’s State of Emergency | The Thaiger

Bangkok’s State of Emergency has been lifted, according to a statement published in the Royal Gazette, making it official. The order, banning large public gatherings, and censoring critical media commentary, was imposed last Thursday morning by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, leading to the breaking up a protest and the arrests of a number of activists.

“The current violent situation that led to the announcement of the severe situation has eased and ended to a situation in which government officials and state agencies can enforce the regular laws.”

Protesters ignored the orders and rallies only grew over the past week. The recent series of protests started on Wednesday, October 14 at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument. The demonstration happened to be at the same day and the same route as a royal motorcade, causing complications as well as a clash between the royal supporters and the protesters calling on reform.

Protesters walked to the Government House and intended to set up camp for a few days to put pressure on Prayut to resign. The protest was broken up at 4am the next morning after the prime minister issued the state of emergency. More than 20 activists were arrested, many faced charges of violating the emergency measures.

Despite the government orders, there have been rallies everyday. The emergency order also banned content on websites and social media considered to be a “threat to national security.” Some Thai media outlets covering the protests were under fire, and some authorities tired to suspend them under the emergency order. The court dismissed the requests to block those media companies, saying the Thai Constitution does not give the court power to shutdown media platforms.

SOURCE: Reuters

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Visa

Negative Covid-19 results for first group on the Special Tourist Visa

Caitlin Ashworth

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Negative Covid-19 results for first group on the Special Tourist Visa | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Surely, the most anticipated and followed tourists ever to grace Thailand’s shores. All 39 visitors who flew in from China this week on the new Special Tourist Visa have tested negative for Covid-19. While it’s a small group, they’re the first foreign tourists to arrive since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

More international tourists are expected to arrive next week under the auspices of the new Special Tourist Visa. If there are no positive Covid-19 cases in the first groups, the government says they could start to lift restrictions, like cutting down the mandatory quarantine period, or allowing more applicants under the STV.

2 more groups travelling from China are expected to arrive next week on October 26 and 27, according to the tourism and sports minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn. Another group of travellers from Scandinavian countries are expected to arrive in November.

Reopening borders to foreign tourists has been a concern for some about the potential spread of the coronavirus, even though tourists are required to go through a 14 day quarantine period before travelling in the country. Phiphat says those entering Thailand on the Special Tourist Visa are only those from areas declared free of Covid-19 for at least a month.

“Europe now faces a second wave… The Tourism and Sports Foreign ministries will allow tourists from low-risk cities with zero new cases for more than 30 days.”

If there continues to be no positive Covid-19 cases from those on the Special Tourist Visa, Phiphat says they government could implement a more relaxed quarantine. Health officials have talked about cutting the quarantine down to 10 days and possibly just a week. Phiphat says they would first need approval from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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