Phuket transport chief puts brakes on negligence

PHUKET: Phuket Provincial Land Transportation Office (PLTO) chief Terayout Prasertphol has announced strict new measures that will hold tour bus companies responsible for the mechanical safety of their vehicles.

Under the new measures, tour bus companies stand to have their commercial passenger permits revoked entirely, meaning the companies’ right to operate any commercial passenger vehicles will be terminated, chief Terayout told the Phuket Gazette.

The move comes after two serious bus crashes in Phuket within the same week late last month. Both accidents were attributed by the driver to brake failure.

“There was a tour bus crash [on the hill from Karon to Chalong] on October 22 in which one Chinese tourist died and many were injured. Then on October 26, a tour bus full of Russians crashed on Patong Hill, which injured a lot of tourists,” Chief Terayout told a group of more than 10 Phuket tour bus company representatives this week.

“Official departments and organizations in Phuket are seeing this as a very important issue. From now on, in the case a tour bus crashes, the police will now charge both the driver and the registered owner of the bus,” he warned.

Mr Terayout said his office had discovered that many bus companies were using vehicles that had not been issued their annual road safety inspection certificates.

“Bus companies often report to our office that some of their buses are no longer in service or they simply do not present buses for their bi-annual inspection.

“The penalty for using a bus that has not been issued its annual roadworthy certificate is a fine of up to 50,000 baht. This is because doing so could cause a serious accident,” he said.

Companies found to repeatedly neglect to have the safety inspections will have their commercial passenger permits revoked, he says.

Chief Terayout added that any bus companies found to be using drivers who do not have the appropriate license – or who have a history of drunk driving causing an accident – also stood to have their permits revoked.

“The full responsibility for keeping buses safe must be with the bus companies because they are the ones responsible for the maintenance of their vehicles.

“This includes tour companies [themselves] and independent operators hired by tour companies to provide bus services.

“The PLTO and police have started setting up checkpoints to inspect buses. These checkpoints will be in operation twice a week,” Mr Terayout said.

By the end of this month the PLTO will start holding training sessions to update bus companies on their legal obligations in providing safe transportation.

The training will include warnings of roads in Phuket known to be dangerous, so drivers can exercise extra caution when navigating those roads, said the chief.

“I am also concerned about buses from other provinces. The drivers are not used to Phuket roads. This might cause accidents, especially on the Patong and Karon hills,” he said.

Regarding last month’s crashes, Chief Teerayout confirmed to the Phuket Gazette that, “These accidents happened because the drivers did not pay enough attention to the road. They probably were driving too fast on the hills and caused the accidents.

“Both of these buses were registered in Phuket. The cases are now under police investigation.”

However he said that the new strict enforcement of the law will not be applied retroactively to these cases.

— W Temram / C Plerin

Phuket News

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