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Double Trouble: Overloaded Truck Ruptures Bangkok Street – But What Does a Star-Shaped Sticker Have to do With it?

Imagine, if you will, a massive ten-wheel lorry, its beds filled to the brim with soil, firmly stuck in a gaping hole on Sukhumvit Road, near Soi 64/1 in the heart of Bangkok. The sight is sorry, yet strangely fascinating. This spectacle unfolded on a Wednesday and it has been the talk of the town since then. The image, immortalized by Nutthawat Wicheanbut, showed the aftermath of a demolishing accident that shook the metropolis.

The man behind the wheel of the problematic lorry has been identified as SenabcPhacharaphol Jantharinthrakorn. The metro’s traffic police have held him accountable for having his lorry on the streets while it was perilously overloaded. The fact that the lorry carried a star-shaped sticker did little to appease the authorities. It was believed to be a tacit symbol, designating a bribe paid to turn a blind eye to the overpacked vehicle. Phacharaphol, in all his earnestness, defended that the sticker signified no such corruption.

Two days prior, his driver, Sakmongkol Thasako, was figuratively pulled over by authorities. He was slapped with accusations of reckless driving that resulted in physical harm to individuals, devastation to private property and the violation of weight limit for his freight carriage. The pair pleaded not guilty to the accusations and were released while six other potential witnesses are brought in for questioning. Following the conclusion of interrogation, their case files will be presented to state prosecutors who will decide whether to proceed with a trial in the Phra Khanong Criminal Court.

The lorry, operationally owned by Phacharaphol, was hauling soil extracted from a construction site. When it breached a pre-existing slab of concrete, concealing an underground trench of the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA), disaster struck. A motorcyclist and a taxi driver were unfortunate enough to get caught up in the wreckage. When the recovery team finally managed to extract the lorry and its accompanying cargo an alarming discovery was made. The load of soil and the vehicle totaled a staggering 37.45 tonnes, a flagrant violation of the scaled back 25-tonne legal limit.

On the following Friday, mister Phacharaphol was summoned for questioning, facing Pol Maj Gen Suwitcha Jindakham, the commander of the Office of the Inspector-General’s Division 10. He was also leading an investigation into suspected police misconduct. Allegedly, authorities were intentionally oblivious of vehicles brandishing certain stickers, a presumed sign of bribe payment.

Phacharaphol, however, remained steadfast in his defense. He emphasized that the green star present on his lorries had no correlation with illicit bribes. According to his explanation, the green hue stood for Wednesday, the day of his birth, and the initial “B” represented his nickname, “Big”. He further explained he identified as a rising star in his industry, hence he started using star-shaped stickers as a self-fulfilling prophecy since 2018. His attorney Seksan Srihiranyangkul, backed his claims, reiterating the lorry’s frequent course on the fateful route without prior incidents. He also questioned the strategic placement of the concrete slab that caused the whole fiasco.

The investigation will shortly delve into other aspects of the incident. They will inspect the allegations over illegal modifications made to the lorry and any possible foul play involving the vehicle’s fuel tank to falsify its weight post-accident.

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