Having spent 10 million baht to construct a wheelchair path from the Redemptorist Vocational School for Persons with Disabilities to Big C Extra, Pattaya officials are now trying to convince residents along the route to stop blocking it with cars and other obstacles.
City Council Vice President Rattanachai Sutidechanai took city hall traffic and regulatory officers for a walk along the central Pattaya route Oct. 24, discovering what many predicted before the slightly-elevated path was built: local residents put their own parking needs ahead of the needs of the disabled.
Original plans called for the Soi Paniadchang path to be separated from traffic by a barrier. City hall cut costs, however, by choosing to demark the route with merely a painted line. Without the barrier, police announced that they would not vigilantly enforce parking laws.
One disabled student told Rattanachai that about 20 percent of the wheelchair path is usually blocked at any one time by cars, motorbikes, drainage pipes or other obstacles.
One Soi Paniadchang game shop owner said he initially respected the path and parked cars owned by him and his customers elsewhere, but after his motorbike was stolen last year, he changed his mind.
The vendor said he returned to parking on top of the wheelchair route because it was in front of his shop where he could keep an eye on his car. He told officials he wanted to help, but told them that he faces difficulties too, so he couldn’t comply.
The city tried to coax him to cooperate by offering to build a parking zone for motorbikes, but he declined again, saying he fears the construction will cause flood waters to enter his shop.
Rattanachai said his visit wasn’t about forcing residents to cooperate, but to try and convince them of the needs of the disabled so everyone can live harmoniously.
He added that he understands issues faced by both sides and claimed that his requests for orderly parking were generally agreed to.
He said traffic police have been coordinated and if people are found parking in no-parking zones they will be fined 500 baht.
He vowed that, long-term, improvements will be made to resolve the situation permanently, but did not elaborate on what those plans might be.