Southern rail service resumes, highway blockade suspended


BANGKOK, Sept 6 – Railway service between Bangkok and Thailand’s South resumed last night after rubber growers called off their blockade but vowed to resume their protest if the government failed to respond to their demand on subsidised rubber price within seven days.

Prapat Chongsa-nguan, State Railway of Thailand governor, said the Yala-bound train left Bangkok last night while other routes to the southern region would operate as normal.

Iad Seng-iad, a protest leader, said the railroad and the road at Ban Kuan Ngern in Cha-uat district, Nakhon Si Thammarat, were reopened after 10 days of blockade.

He said rubber growers would temporarily suspend their protest for a week to wait for the government’s response on assistance to farmers following a slump in rubber price.

They wanted the government to pledge the price of rubber sheets at no less than Bt100 per kg while the government insisted on Bt80 per kg.

The Natural Rubber Policy Committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong, stood firm yesterday that a rubber price subsidy would be impossible.

The committee instead agreed to grant financial aid to farmers at Bt1,260 per rai and set the ceiling at 25 rai for each household per year.

The committee would submit the resolution to the Cabinet Tuesday for approval.

The private sector said the 10-day railroad and highway closures cost their businesses at least Bt3 billion.