The plight of the German man, whose name has been withheld, has now been posted on several popular local Thai-language media channels focussing on Phuket.
The tourist said he was riding northbound through the tunnel on his way to visit the Big Buddha viewpoint yesterday (Feb 20) when he was pulled over by traffic police straight after exiting the tunnel.
The officer explained that it was illegal to ride a motorbike through the underpass. The officer ignored the German tourist’s protests that he saw no traffic sign informing motorists that it was illegal to ride a motorbike through the tunnel.
The officer then asked the tourist to pay B5,000 as the fine.
The German explained that he did not have that much money on him at the time. The officer then asked for B2,000 instead, which could be paid there by the side of the road. The German man agreed.
The German man today pointed out how expensive the B5,000 fine was, “Even in my hometown in Germany, fines are not this high,” he said.
He also asked why he was not issued a receipt for the B2,000 he did pay as the legitimate fine, and why the money was asked for by the side of the road, instead of at a police box or the nearest police station. (Chalong Police Station is barely 100 metres from where the German man was stopped and fined.)
Chalong Police Chief Pol Col Ekkarat Plaiduang spoke with The Phuket News briefly this afternoon, as he was in a meeting.
Col Ekkarat said that he was now aware of the incident and that officers were checking the German man’s claim that there are no traffic signs informing motorists that it is illegal to ride a motorbike through the underpass.
The Phuket News can confirm that as recently as August last year there was only one sign informing motorists that it is illegal to ride a motorbike.through the underpass ‒ the sign is small and located right at the entrance to the tunnel, giving drivers no chance to safely avoid entering the tunnel.
Regardless, Col Ekkarat today pointed out that installing roadside traffic signs in Phuket was the responsibility of the Phuket Highways Office.
The Phuket News has yet to have any officer from the Chalong Police confirm the maximum fine for illegally riding a motorbike through the underpass. Of note, it is illegal to ride a motorbike through any underpasses in Phuket.
Chalong Traffic Police Chief Pol Lt Col Jeerasit Noopayan declined to give any answer, saying that he was to meet with Col Ekkarat about the incident.
Col Ekkarat assured that the officer involved will be questioned over the incident.
Phuket Tourist Police have now also recognised the incident, and said they were helping the German tourist “to coordinate” with Chalong Police about the incident.
Kamala Pete | 22 February 2023 - 11:32:18