In the heart of Bangkok, near Soi 64/1 on Sukhumvit Road, a ten-wheeler made headlines on Wednesday as it became entrapped within a gaping void that was once part of the road’s sturdy structure. The precarious and overburdened truck, piled high with soil from a recent excavation, succumbed to the weight and triggered a drastic collapse. (Image credit: Nutthawat Wicheanbut).
The lorry belongs to Phacharaphol Jantharinthrakorn, a recognized player in the road haulage industry. Following the incident, Phra Khanong police formally implicated Phacharaphol for sanctioning the vehicle’s operation despite a glaring violation – carrying a load far beyond the legal limit. Ironically, the truck donned a star emblem, inviting speculations of it being a secret code signaling bribery acquiescence with traffic law enforcement. Phacharaphol, however, vehemently rebuffed such allegations.
Sakmongkol Thasako, the oblivious driver assigned to handle the path-busting leviathan, also faced the music for the mishap. Authorities slapped him with charges including reckless driving, causing harm to others, and causing destruction to private property. He, too, was accused of breaching the law by operating a lorry laden far past its allowed capacity. Both individuals challenged the charges, with the police currently refraining from placing them under detention as they bring in additional witnesses for further inquiry.
In defense, howler-in-chief Phacharaphol claimed innocence over the overloading debacle. On the day of the mishap, the lorry was occupied with soil excavated from a construction site and met its unlucky fate near an underground trench of the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) in the vicinity of Sukhumvit Soi 64/1, Phra Khanong district. The unexpected downfall of the concrete slab covering an underground cable pit by the significant weight of the loaded lorry led to injuries to a motorcyclist and a taxi driver present at the scene.
Post the incident, a weighing exercise of the embattled vehicle revealed a shocking contravention of rules. The lorry was crammed with earth weighing a whopping 37.45 tonnes – a gross violation of the legal load limit of 25 tonnes.
During the course of the inquiry, Maj Gen Suwitcha Jindakham from the Office of the Inspector-General’s Division 10 called on the driver and Phacharaphol for questioning. Notably, Suwitcha also heads the department investigating recent allegations of law enforcement overlooking illegal activities sanctioned by certain vehicles flaunting enigmatic emblems.
In a surprising turn of events, Phacharaphol decoded the green star symbolism, brushing aside suspicions of bribery. As per his elucidation, the vehicle’s adornment was a tribute to his nickname ‘Big’ (the ‘B’ initial) and Wednesday, being the day of his birth (marked by the green color). He intended to portray his hopeful aspirations as a rising tycoon through the star-shaped sticker, and confidently declared that his vehicles have donned the symbol since 2018.
The defense further argued that the journey was a routine for the lorry, and the blame lay partly with the concrete slab’s positioning. Not ignoring entirely the mishap’s severity, the police have initiated investigations into allegations of the lorry having experienced illegal alterations featuring weight reduction measures, like drawing off the vehicle’s fuel post the crash.