Van drivers snub move order

Passenger van drivers have mostly ignored an order to relocate to a new parking site near Makkasan Airport Rail Link station, insisting the junta's plan is impractical.

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The new arrangement took effect yesterday, but the new van hub was all but deserted as most drivers chose to make their own parking arrangements instead.

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) last month announced a plan to use the Makkasan land as a permanent passenger van hub after it banned drivers from parking at the Victory Monument to ease traffic congestion.

But no ticket booths have been installed at Makkasan, meaning passengers are still required to purchase tickets and begin their journey at the Victory Monument.

The van drivers, however, are expected to park at the Airport Link station until they receive a call to come and collect passengers.

A van driver at the Victory Monument, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he did not comply with the junta's order yesterday because the Makkasan parking lot was too far away.

He said it would take at least 30 minutes to drive from there to the Victory Monument, which was impractical both for him and for passengers.

Instead, the driver arranged to park his van at a private space near the Victory Monument.

Another van driver who also preferred to remain nameless said the new measure was both impractical and inconvenient. He said the parking lot at Makkasan had neither shady areas nor rest areas for the van drivers.

"We want the NCPO to review the measure," the driver said.

"If possible, it should find a new place for us to park our vans."

Deputy metropolitan police chief Nipon Charoenpol and Col Sombat Thanyawan, of the army Cavalry Centre in Saraburi, inspected the first day of the new arrangement yesterday.

Pol Maj Gen Nipon said traffic around the Victory Monument had been mostly smooth. He said the passenger van services were operating in a more orderly manner and, overall, traffic was flowing about "70% smoother" than before.

An area under the Din Daeng expressway, about a kilometre from the Victory Monument, has been designated for about 150 vans to park to make way for incoming and outgoing traffic during rush hours, he said.

Meanwhile, city clerk Ninnat Chalitanon yesterday led a Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) team to inspect street vendors operating around the Victory Monument.

Mrs Ninnat said the inspection was aimed at encouraging the vendors to maintain a clean environment.

She said the BMA was also considering issuing a ban on stalls from operating around the Victory Monument because they were obstructing footpaths.

Police are launching a crackdown on vendors who obstruct footpaths, beginning with eight hotspots across the city.

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