Songkran Carnage

Numnual  Yapparat

The Thai Road Safety Centre reported that in this Songkran period up until the 13th April 2014 there were 689 accidents with 59 deaths.

It is scandalous that we have such a high number of road accident deaths at Songkran each year. Road accidents are among the top causes of death in Thailand. Why does this happen? Why in the advanced countries do we not have such high death tolls? In festive seasons like Christmas, Easter or the summer holidays, the roads are very busy but travellers turn up to their destinations safely.

Thai authorities are coping with this problem badly. They seek to blame individuals for reckless driving and drink-driving instead of talking about the real facts. We have to deny their blame game. The truth is we lack of safe, fast and affordable public transport. During the Songkran festival people cannot find enough trains or coaches to travel home. Then they make choices by travelling with friends or relatives.  The poor normally use motorbikes and pickup trucks. Sometimes they overload both in carrying baggage and passengers. It is dangerous to ride in the back of pickup trucks, but the poor have no choice. The coach drivers also have to drive longer hours.  Then accidents can happen easily.

Workers have long working hours and only short holidays. Many work a 6 day week. Domestic workers and sweat shop workers sometimes work a 7 day week. Therefore real holidays are concentrated at Songkran. There is a hurry to leave the city for the rural villages and make the most of the short holiday. Workers in the EU have longer annual leave and do not face such a crisis.

The best way to tackle road accidents is to have high speed trains with cheap subsidised tickets and a good, safe public transport network within towns and communities. Public transport should be in the hands of the government, not private companies. However, we cannot have safe public transport as long as we are ruled by a few unelected elites. The disgraceful example in this case is the bastard judges from constitutional court who have ruled that the proposed high speed train project is “unconstitutional”. We need democracy and we need high speed trains and safe public transport. We need decent working conditions with good holidays for the majority of the population.

Photo : Matichon