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Phuket Opinion: Selling nightlife late closing short

Phuket Opinion: Selling nightlife late closing short

PHUKET: The Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee has a lot of explaining to do if they want to blame drunk drivers as their reason for denying nightlife venues on Bangla Rd, Patong, the right to close at 4am.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 27 November 2022, 09:30AM

Nightlife venue staff hold placards supporting the call for Bangla Rd to be allowed 4am closing during Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn’s visit in September. Photo: PR Phuket

Nightlife venue staff hold placards supporting the call for Bangla Rd to be allowed 4am closing during Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn’s visit in September. Photo: PR Phuket

The committee made its decision on Friday (Nov 25), with the committee’s secretary, Dr Tares Krassanairawiwong, who is also chief of the Department of Disease Control, making the announcement.

The committee’s prime concern with the proposal was a potential increase in road accidents due to increased alcohol consumption, said Dr Tares. He said the panel, in their decision, was concerned that more accidents would greatly burden medical staff

“Its impact is immense if the period is prolonged. We don’t want to see increasing numbers of accidents,” Dr Tares said.

If that is their espoused main concern, it is very difficult to believe.

What seems to have been forgotten was that the proposal was for nightlife venues in selected entertainment zones in tourist popular areas only to be given the extended closing time as a trial period first.

What the buffoons on the committee appear to have done is base their decision as if it would be effective equally everywhere.

Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn repeatedly has been very clear that for Phuket the selected area would be the entertainment zone of Bangla Rd, Patong, only ‒ not anywhere else.

In case we need to repeat what officials keep repeating themselves, Bangla Rd in Patong is an attraction for foreigners, not Thais. Between the entertainment provided and the prices charged, Bangla Rd is not overly appealing for Thai tourists or local Thai residents on the island.

What the committee has got right is that most road-accident fatalities in Phuket tend to happen late at night. Oddly, according to the Thai Road Safety Committee (ThaiRSC), nationwide most road fatalities occur between 7pm and 8pm.

But the deadly accidents on Phuket late at night have very little to do with the Bangla entertainment area. The island’s worst areas for late night road fatalities are in and around Phuket Town, with Thalang District close behind ‒ and those fatalities are overwhelmingly Thais.

If the Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee is concerned about the increasing number of road fatalities by drunk drivers, it is an uphill battle their governmental colleagues have been losing for decades ‒ and that is according to the Ministry of Public Health’s own statistics.

CBRE Phuket

Just this week Phuket officials held yet another meeting to affirm they will continue with the usual road-safety campaigns in the hope of reducing the number of road deaths and injuries on the island.

The Phuket Traffic Accident Management Committee reported on Monday that in 2021 there were 91 deaths from road accidents and 1,171 serious injuries.

Of note, the committee marked that the 91 deaths amounted to the equivalent of B910 million 

in economic losses, and the 1,171 serious injuries amounted to the equivalent of B3.514 billion in economic losses. Those are figures not reported often.

Despite the national initiative announced by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha in June, the Phuket committee has set a very low bar for reducing road accident deaths and injuries, to the point it is not clear whether they expect any success at all.

The goal, through a five-year plan, is to reduce the number of road fatalities to “no more than 94 people”. As of yesterday (Nov 26), Phuket’s official tally for this year already stood at 92 dead and 15,288 people injured in road accidents, and that is with an entire month to go before closing out the year.

In comparison, in 2019 while Phuket tourism was still flourishing ‒ though admittedly already on the decline from the unsustainable number of tourists in 2017 and 2018 ‒ Phuket suffered 92 deaths and 9,365 injured in road accidents.

With these figures, it is hard to see where road safety is being taken seriously at all, nevermind being used to deny late closing for nightlife venues on Bangla.

Worse, 44% of the more than 15,000 injured in road accidents in Phuket so far this year were under 14 years old. The Phuket Traffic Accident Management Committee might want to focus on that.

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee does not appear to have understood any of this at all. If they did, the only reason for denying Bangla Rd late closing is that they didn’t want to tell nightlife power brokers in Bangkok and Pattaya that nightlife venues in Phuket would be allowed to close late, but they would not ‒ and that is regardless of many “selected” venues already closing late irrespective of the law.

Maintaining the status quo has only one effect: the powers that be who are already abusing the system, and profiting from it, will continue to do so.

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CaptainJack69 | 30 November 2022 - 08:15:01

Why would people drink drive at 4am but not at 2am? The time makes no difference and their story is an obvious smoke screen.

christysweet | 28 November 2022 - 13:40:28

Keep the bars open 24/7  captivating drunks and W-mongers to stay and then off the streets.  

Kurt | 28 November 2022 - 10:48:03

Bangla Rd in early evening hours is a 'tourist family museum'. Tourist families think to look at a traditional thing.. Is also the time Officials look hypocrite with opera face a 'inspection round'. After all that gone, after 11pm start the fun, tooting/drinking/prostitution/drugs you name it scene.

JohnC | 28 November 2022 - 09:00:41

Good opinion piece. In days gone by (last century) when Bangla closed at 2am everyone would wander down to Soi Sunset and continue partying until well after daylight. I well remember riding to work in the mornings past there and see many people still there. Why anybody would still want (be able) to drink as the sun rises is beyond me but if there is a market for it the locals catered to it.

Taswegian | 28 November 2022 - 07:50:39

Drinking all day until 4am? Seriously? Once I go out to dinner I am ready to go back to my hotel and get some sleep. The last place I would go to at night time in Phuket is Bangla Road. Just a toxic place!

McLart3 | 28 November 2022 - 00:08:47

Does anything good ever happen at 4am?

DeKaaskopp | 27 November 2022 - 23:27:22

And the moaning goes on as usual. 

GerryT81 | 27 November 2022 - 19:43:33

I pretty much doubt that bars in most countries stop selling alcohol at midnight. And those who do are pretty backwards. Apart from that I think that most of those opposing later closing times on Bangla or other districts in Thailand don't go such places anyway. 

Capricornball | 27 November 2022 - 13:51:19

Additionally, most countries stop serving alcohol at  midnight or 1:00 and close the bars at 2. The resistance of the law comes from greedy bar owners and pimps that want to keep the alcohol flowing and renting out Thailand's poor mothers and daughters for sex while they stuff their insatiable pockets with baht. They are the vermin that run the sex capital of the world.

Capricornball | 27 November 2022 - 13:41:59

Pretty lame opinion this time PN (IMHO). You generally imply that the basis of their decision (increased drunk driving) is pointless. While I agree it shouldn't have been the ONLY criteria ( could have added more fighting, violence, prostitution), there would also be an increased instance of drunk driving/riding. Anyway, Prab and his RTP minions already allow all night debauchery.

Prab | 27 November 2022 - 11:07:34

great article right on the spot.

Fascinated | 27 November 2022 - 11:06:12

You refer to the committee as 'buffoons'? No one can ever answer my question about what makes Bangla special and needs o be open until 4am? Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and other places close at 2am- why should Patong be any different? Its not rocket science- go out earlier.

Kurt | 27 November 2022 - 10:22:43

What we miss is that of all committees, National or just Phuketiën, none of them come out with recommendations what the RTP should improve/start in functioning to help to bring the 'figures' down. Why is that?

Kurt | 27 November 2022 - 10:13:33

1171 serious injuries cost the Thai B 3,514 Billion in economic losses. Wow! If the traffic police just would do a aggressive proper job out there, how much many road users would drive more careful? There is money to save with a good functioning RTP!! And, 44% of road-injured below 14 years old, no surprise, seen the lack of RTP interest about this illegal category road users.


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