Oil tanker drivers block Songkhla terminal

Oil tanker drivers block Songkhla terminal

Oil tanker drivers negotiate an end their blockade at an oil terminal in Songkhla in talks with police and local officials, mediated by Songkhla governor Thamrong Charoenkul. (Photo by Wichayant Boonchote)
Oil tanker drivers negotiate an end their blockade at an oil terminal in Songkhla in talks with police and local officials, mediated by Songkhla governor Thamrong Charoenkul. (Photo by Wichayant Boonchote)

Disgruntled operators and drivers of oil tankers blockaded a fuel terminal in Songkhla on Wednesday morning in a protest against the actions of a police unit tasked with stopping oil smuggling.

The drivers used about 50 fuel tankers to block the entrance to the Caltex, Esso and Shell joint terminal in Singha Nakhon district.

They were upset over the detention of oil tanker drivers and their trucks by a petroleum crime suppression team. They said that since Monday several fuel tankers had been detained for allegedly travelling on routes off-limits to oil trucks.

Songkhla governor Thamrong Charoenkul and Pol Col Supawat Thapkhiew, the deputy Songkhla police chief, meet with the protesters to discuss their grievances.

The tanker drivers said they all had permits to drive oil tankers and many had transported oil for more than 20 years without any problems. Suddenly, the untaxed oil suppression team had started making arrests at the entrance of a route to the oil terminal they claimed was off limits. 

The oil tanker operators had to place a cash surety of 1.5 million baht for the release of each seized tanker, and the drivers each had to find 100,000 baht as surety to get bail, the protesters said. 

Mr Thamrong called a meeting with relevant agencies and oil tanker representatives around noon.

During the talks, all sides agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding regarding the detention of oil tankers and the operations of the police team.

Under the MoU, operators of oil tankers are required to present operating permits to police investigators if their trucks are seized, and members of the arresting team would be investigated to see if they had ulterior motives.

The protesting tanker owners and drivers were satisfied and agreed to disperse.


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