City regulators stand firm against street vendor protest over fines, arrests

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Despite recruiting a ruling party official to help them, about 150 angry street vendors wilted against unbending city regulators in their battle against repeated fines and arrests.

With the help of Chaiwat Hengtrakul, representing Pheu Thai Party local official Chanyuth Hengtrakul, the food vendors met with Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh and municipal police chief Maj. Col. Jirawat Sukholzup March 19, but found city officials unapologetic for fines and imprisonment for the vendors’ chronic violation of city regulations and traffic laws.

Protesting vendors meet with Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh and municipal police chief Maj. Col. Jirawat Sukholzup.Protesting vendors meet with Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh and municipal police chief Maj. Col. Jirawat Sukholzup.

The vendors, led by a committee of five local residents, complained to Chaiwat that regulatory-enforcement officers were fining them up to 1,500 per day and imprisoning them for up to three days for blocking traffic and creating a nuisance on Pattaya’s streets. The vendors argued they were poor, only trying to make a living and that they were helping Pattaya’s tourist image by serving tourists.

Jirawat, however, remained unfazed by the pleas of innocence. He defended the police actions, saying that if left un-policed, the vendors would create havoc. As such, he said, the fines and arrests will continue until the vendors either heed the law or operate in a proper venue.

Ronakit took a more conciliatory tack with the vendors, promising them that the city is planning to construct a market where street merchants can “sell their food in an orderly and clean environment.”

No estimate was given on when such a market would be completed.

The vendors politely thanked the police and politicians, putting on a brave face for the media by saying they got a satisfactory solution.