The on again-off again battle between Pattaya’s disabled residents and selfish neighbors on Soi Paniadchang flared up again this month with fresh reports of locals parking cars inside the street’s dedicated wheelchair lane.
Social media posts spurred stories in Thai and even local media about the lane blockage which, typically, failed to research the issue and treated it as some new scandal. In fact, it’s a problem dating back to the lane’s construction in 2013.
Pattaya spent 10 million baht seven years ago to construct the wheelchair path from Redemptorist Technological College for Persons with Disabilities to Big C Extra. Neighbors along the route, from the outset, refused to accept project, claiming it robbed them of parking spaces. So, they simply parked on top in the handicapped lane.
Pattaya City Hall, as is often the case, has failed to maintain its big-ticket project and paint marking the wheelchair lane had disappeared. So, faced with new protests, the city sent workers to paint new lines June 29.
The heart of the problem with neighbors is that former Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome did the project on the cheap, refusing to pay for a key feature. Original plans called for the path to be separated from traffic by a barrier. City hall cut costs, however, by choosing to demark the route with merely by a painted line and raise the surface slightly.
Police and city hall have gone through rounds of enforcement and ticket-writing only to have the problem resurface later, as it did again last week. For wheelchair users, it’s the same old story.