PHUKET police issued a clarification after they were attacked on Thai social media for fining a foreign tourist who was caught riding an electric scooter in Patong area, Amarin TV said today (Feb. 21).
Fearing a negative impact on tourism after photos circulated showing the tourist being fined for cruising along on an e-scooter, some netizens pointed out that the police should have instead taken action against the shop that rented it to him.
Other netizens told police to tackle illegal taxis and the taxi mafia on the island instead.
However Patong police station clarified in a Facebook post that they took action after complaints from local residents through their Line group that they feared using this vehicle is a danger to both the rider and other road users.
Patong police added that after receiving complaints they mounted a public relations campaign last December that it is forbidden to use e-scooters on the island’s roads. This step was taken upon getting confirmation from Phuket Transport Office that the Department of Land Transport had refused to allow the registration of e-scooters as riding them could lead to road accidents.
Subsequently, during Feb. 16-Feb.19 Patong police under the direction of Pol. Col. Sujin Nilabadee, the station’s chief, rounded up some e-scooter riders and seized four vehicles that are being checked as to where they came from so that action could be taken against the parties involved.
The riders were charged with riding an unregistered and untaxed vehicle without a driver’s licence that are offences under the Vehicle Act, BE 2522 (1979), Sections 6 and 64, with the former entailing a fine of not more than 10,000 baht and the latter imprisonment of not more than one month and maximum 1,000 baht fine.
After this incident Pol. Col. Sujin ordered traffic police to mount a new PR drive to alert tourists using e-scooter to be aware of the safety of road users with offenders to be warned on a case by case basis.
The e-scooter riding tourist being fined. The Thai headline says, “Catching an e-scooter.” Photo: Amarin TV