Neutral safety body needed

Neutral safety body needed

Commuters walk along the Yellow Line track after the driverless monorail they were travelling on ground to a halt between stations on Thursday. The line was still experiencing problems on Saturday. (Photo: plaapiyaa TikTok Account)
Commuters walk along the Yellow Line track after the driverless monorail they were travelling on ground to a halt between stations on Thursday. The line was still experiencing problems on Saturday. (Photo: plaapiyaa TikTok Account)

Another accident on Wednesday is a reminder for drivers in Bangkok that they have a new risk to heed. On top of Rama II Road's reputation for multiple accidents caused by construction sites, drivers must now watch out for danger from above as they drive below the structure of the Yellow Line monorail service.

Last Wednesday, parts of the track between Kalantan and Si Udom stations fell onto Srinakarin Road below, damaging several vehicles. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

Since the Yellow Line opened on July 3 last year, there has already been one similar occurrence. On Jan 2, a tyre from a Yellow Line train fell off while it was running on a stretch between Thipphawan and Si Thepha stations on Thepharak Road. The tyre dented a taxi, although luckily, no one was injured.

Such accidents reflect the risk that drivers in Bangkok face when they drive below public construction sites. The risk is not limited to the Yellow Monorail. On a recent Saturday, gypsum and crushed rocks from the Pink Line city train site in the Pak Kret area fell on a car below, injuring a girl.

Immediately following any such accident related to public infrastructure, it has become an all-too-predictable scene as the minister responsible and his officials rush to the site and promise to launch a "fresh probe" to find out the cause. It is a ritual of hot air that also involves the officials and politicians promising to put these operators on a blacklist or a watch list.

After public attention fizzles out and media attention shifts to other news, those agencies (either the Ministry of Transport or the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration) which regulate city trains and related infrastructure do not tell the public the outcomes of those "probes" or how the companies were penalised. People never see any such lists of companies "blacklisted" for causing accidents.

Such glaring irresponsibility must come to an end.

Indeed, there is one solution that would improve safety. After the accident on Wednesday, Saree Ongsomwang, the secretary-general of the Thailand Consumers Council (TCC), called for a national committee to audit public infrastructure and construction projects.

At the same time, Prof Suchatchawee Suwansawat, former president of King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang and a specialist in construction technology, says he will submit a proposal signed by 10,000 people to the Lower House this month.

It calls for the formation of a national committee for safety inspections staffed by experts in civil engineering, the environment, health and consumer rights who would monitor public construction and oversee safety audits.

These impartial experts will inspect accidents such as those involving the Yellow Line instead of letting a "probe" conducted in closed-door meetings between private operators and state agencies do the job. In addition to independent safety auditing, a national safety fund will be formed to enable much quicker compensation payments.

Indeed, the TCC and safety experts have proposed similar ideas for years without receiving a positive response from various governments.

It can only be hoped that the Srettha government, with its eyes currently fixed on economic stimuli, soft power and casinos, will pay attention to public safety.

The solution is clear. It just needs our leader to care enough to make the creation of a neutral, national safety committee happen.

Editorial

Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

Email : anchaleek@bangkokpost.co.th

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