Farmers from six provinces began to block both inbound and outbound lanes at tambon Wang Manao in Pak Tho district of Ratchaburi province on Saturday to demand that the caretaker government pay the amount owed to them for rice pledged under the rice pledging programme.
They are from Ratchaburi, Kanchanaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi, Nakhon Pathom and Samut Songkram.
Pol Capt Prachak Thesthong, a sub-inspector at Wang Manao Highway Police Station, held talks with 12 representatives of the protesters and asked them to reopen a South-bound lane on the road to relieve the hardship of motorists.
Pol Capt Prachak said a smaller road that passes Wang Manao village, which has been used as an alternate route since the blockade began, has started to break up because of the large number of vehicles passing through. Residents were also complaining about pollution and dust being kicked up by passing cars.
They said the heavy traffic was also affecting the structure of a 200-year-old ubosot (ordination hall) of Wat Wang Manao, he added.
But the farmers refused to reopen a traffic lane, saying there are still several other alternate routes heading to the southern provinces, not only the one running through Wang Manao.
Allowing vehicles to use one lane, passing the protesters, could pose a danger if people angered by the road closure fired shots or threw bombs at them, they said. They asked who would take responsibility for loss of a protester’s life from such an attack.
More farmers from Kanchanaburi and Nakhon Pathom will join the protest on Monday. The group said they would intensify their protest by closing both inbound and outbound lanes of Petchakasem Road leading to the South if the government could not give them a firm answer on the date of payment by Monday.