Bangkok’s motorcycle taxis have been involved in a number of violent incidents with rival technology driven competitor taxi services in recent years. They have also been embroiled in tense standoffs with police in some areas of Bangkok over regulation of their activities as well as respect for bye laws. This latest incident is the result of a rivalry between two motorcycle taxi gangs over local custom and vantage points to attract customers. The increase in competition in the taxi business and strong government controls over fares has left many motorcycle taxi operators determined to protect their livelihoods at all costs.
A junction and street area on Bangkok’s busy Sukhumvit road became a battle ground on Saturday morning as dozens of armed motorcycle taxi riders engaged in a pitched and violent confrontation. Two men were killed in the incident, one from a gunshot wound to the head. The 20 year old Kerry Express courier was hit by a stray bullet. He died on the street in front of his home. Another died at hospital and another man suffered severe head wounds from a knife. Thai police have issued at least ten arrest warrants for murder and have launched a full investigation.
Some street areas in Bangkok turned into a scene of mayhem on Saturday morning when two rival gangs of motorcycle taxis launched full frontal assault on each other. The shocking incident on the Sukhumvit road at Soi 103 began just after 11 O’ Clock.
Motorbike taxis have been involved in simmering tensions between police and attacks on new technology drive motorcycle competitors
Motorcycle taxis are popular in Bangkok as in other Thai cities. Although a few Thai women have joined the ranks in recent years, the operators are mostly men. They provide taxi and courier services from a large range of locations around the city wherever they gather wearing distinctive orange coverings. The service is licensed and regulated by authorities including the Transport ministry. In recent years, there have been simmering tensions between the groups and the Thai police in Bangkok who have been tasked with preventing infringements by the activities of the motorcycle taxis on street sidewalks and gathering points. The motorcycle taxi groups have also been involved in violent attacks on drivers working with Uber and its successor firm, Grab, which also runs a motorbike taxi service which has faced legal scrutiny.
Despite competition and regulation, motorcycle taxi operators still make a living
It is understood that although motorcycle taxis are facing strong competition in the taxi business in addition to government regulation of their affairs and other aspects of the trade, it is still a profitable occupation. The speed and versatility of individual motorcycle taxi operators are key factors making it still a viable way to make a living. It is this livelihood that the drivers involved in the trade are determined to protect.
Saturdays violent flare up linked to rivalry between rival motorbike taxi gangs on Bangkok’s Sukhumvit road over vantage points to attract custom
On Saturday, the problem was internal rivalry between two groups of motorcycle taxis riders and their respective positions to attract custom. Thai police in Bang Na are reporting the fight flared up after one group of motorcycle taxis set up a front near the Siam Commercial Bank at the street junction. This is thought to have put the second groups at a commercial disadvantage.
Dozens of orange clad motorcycle riders attacked each other on a public street armed with weapons
The tensions erupted on Saturday morning when the street saw dozens of orange clad men armed with wooden bats, iron bars as well knives and most tragically firearms, going at each other in a pitched street battle. The violent encounter developed right in front of horrified onlookers, people living in the area and those going about their business on a sunny Bangkok morning.
Severe violence led to the death of two men at the scene and at least one suffering head wounds
The violence involved in the street battle was severe even as Thai police and emergency services rushed to the scene to intervene. Two Thai men are known to have died in the conflagration. One was a 20 year old Thai man who died when a stray bullet hit him on the head just above his left eye. The young man who worked for Kerry Express, was killed in front of him home on the street. The second man to die was 33 year old Watcharin Ngamchalao. Press reports from the incident also identified another twenty year old, Thaweekiart Sutthisanong, who suffered severe knife wounds to the head.
Swift and stern response from Thai police as arrest warrants issued for murder
Video clips of the violence have been circulated online and the incident has drawn a stern response from Thai police in Bangkok. It is understood that arrest warrants have been issued for more than 10 people who participated in the violent confrontation and more are to follow. The first batch are facing charges of murder with those involved in the attacks possibly facing collective criminal responsibility for what took place and the loss of life that has occurred.
Leaders of the motorbike gangs will be targeted in intense police investigation to follow
Royal Thai Police Major General Mongkhol Waronno is the commander of the Metropolitan Police in Division 5. He has suggested that both motorcycle taxi groups in the area were in breach of the law before this incident. Police are now collecting CCTV footage of the street battle to identify every party to the attacks. The leaders of both groups will face intense questioning when summoned by police authorities in due course.
Mayhem on Bangkok's Sukhunvit road as motorcyle taxi gangs stage a pitched battle Saturday – two reported deadReport from James Morris in Bangkok on a violent street battle that took place yesterday morning. Bangkok police have launched a full investigation and arrest warrants have been issued for at least 10 people for murder.
Posted by ThaiExaminer.com on Saturday, June 15, 2019