Reckless boat driver punished

The driver of a Bangkok commuter boat which churned up waves that swamped passengers on a pier has had his licence suspended and the boat's controller has been fined.

  • Published: 5/04/2013 at 05:14 PM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

The Marine Department announced the punishments after a video of the incident posted on YouTube stirred outrage among viewers.

Sornsak Saensombat, director-general of Marine Department, said the investigation found the boat driver had been careless in his duty and risked the safety of passengers. His licence was suspended for six months while the person controlling the boat was fined 5,000 baht.

A YouTube user named Manazaa uploaded a video showing the incident, which occurred on April 2 at about 7.30pm.

The clip shows five women standing on Chaan Issara Pier, one of the busiest piers along Klong Saen Saeb, waiting for a boat to pick them up.

The first boat passes without stopping, creating a small wave. It is followed by a second boat just a few seconds later at high speed, apparently racing the other one. It was the second boat that caused huge waves to splash the passengers, knocking two of the women to the ground. No one was injured but three of them were soaked.

Passengers board a boat at Talat Min Buri Pier. The boat service will be free of charge during a trial period that will end on Aug 13. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)

Chavalit Methayaprapas, owner of Krobkrua Kon Song, the boat operator, apologised for the incident. He said there was no excuse for the driver's behaviour and the company would take full responsibility for the incident.

He said the two boat drivers told him they had not been racing but they admitted they had left too small a distance between the two boats, which resulted in large waves. Unfortunately, the incident happened when the level of the water was high too. The two drivers have been transferred to work in other position.

The commuter boats on Klong Saen Saep are a popular alternative for many city residents who want to avoid traffic congestion on the roads. The 18-kilometre route between Phan Fa Bridge in Phra Nakhon district and Wat Sibunrueang in Bang Kapi has been in operation since 1990 and serves as many as 100,000 trips a day.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration in March started a trial service of the 11-km extension from Wat Sibunrueang to Min Buri district, with free service to be provided until Aug 13.

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