Interprovincial minivan operators appealed to Pattaya’s mayor to use his influence with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to lobby for relaxation of rules phasing out old vans and requiring operators convert to larger, safer minibuses.
The rules, put in place in response to Thailand’s world’s worst highway fatality rate and the large number of fatal minivan crashes, call for the phasing out of more than 2,000 minivans this year and thousands more in each of the next three years.
Boonsong Srisakul, president of the Provincial Public Van Association, and the heads of associations of operators of Bangkok and interprovincial minivans, presented a letter to Mayor Sonthaya Kunplome, asking him to give it to Prayut and lobby on their behalf.
Sonthaya, appointed by Prayut as Pattaya’s mayor after serving as his political advisor, is seen as having the premier’s ear.
The van operators want the prime minister to extend the lifetimes of minivans facing forced retirement by up to five more years and drop entirely the requirement that operators switch to larger minibuses, which are considered far safer than minivans, which repeatedly have been overloaded, crashed and burst into flames.
If the government insists on making operators switch to minibuses, Boonsong said, the government should give operators tax cuts and credits plus financial assistance to buy them.
Sonthaya listened to the van operators’ pleas without giving his opinion and said he’d pass on the letter.