Owner of road collapse lorry denies vehicle's sticker was sign of police bribe

Owner of road collapse lorry denies vehicle's sticker was sign of police bribe

The ten-wheel truck heavily laden with dirt is lodged in a collapsed section of Sukhumvit Road, near Soi 64/1, in Bangkok on Wednesday. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
The ten-wheel truck heavily laden with dirt is lodged in a collapsed section of Sukhumvit Road, near Soi 64/1, in Bangkok on Wednesday. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

The owner of a lorry that caused the collapse of a section of road in Bangkok on Wednesday has insisted its star-shaped sticker was not a sign that a bribe had been paid to traffic police to allow it on the road while dangerously overloaded.

The road haulage business owner was identified by Phra Khanong police as Wuthipat Jantharinthrakorn and charged with his part in allowing the vehicle to operate while in excess of its legal weight limit.

Two days ago, police charged the driver, Sakmongkol Thasako, with reckless driving causing injury to others, damaging private property and driving a lorry carrying weight in excess of the legal limit.

Both denied the charges and police have not detained them as they proceed with questioning six more witnesses. The charges will be submitted to state prosecutors to take the case to the Phra Khanong Criminal Court, according to police.

Mr Phacharaphol, who owns four lorries, insisted he did not order his driver to overload the lorry.

On Wednesday, the vehicle, which was loaded with soil dug out from a construction site, caused an accident when it broke a concrete slab placed over the opening of an underground cable trench of the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) near soi Sukhumvit 64/1 in Phra Khanong district. One motorcycle driver and a taxi driver were injured in the incident.

Later, when the vehicle and its cargo were weighed, police found the haulage company was in breach of the law as the lorry loaded with soil weighed 37.45 tonnes, exceeding the legal limit of 25 tonnes.

On Friday, the driver and Mr Wuthipat were summoned for questioning by Pol Maj Gen Suwitcha Jindakham, commander of the Office of the Inspector-General's Division 10, who is also chairing a panel into recent allegations of police turning a blind eye to the activities of vehicles bearing special stickers to show the drivers or company owners had paid police a bribe.

Mr Wuthipat told the police that the green star had nothing to do with bribes as the initial "B" stood for his nickname "Big" and the green colour represented the day of his birth -- Wednesday.

He said the star-shaped sticker was meant to represent his ambition as a rising star and added that he had used the sticker on his vehicles since 2018.

His lawyer Seksan Srihiranyangkul said the lorry used the route regularly without incident and asked police to reconsider the position of the concrete slab covering the opening to an underground cable trench.

Police will also look into claims the lorry had been illegally modified and question a suspect accused of drawing the vehicle's fuel tank to reduce its weight following the crash.

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