Phuket passenger van drivers’ brawl sparks social media outrageLegacy

A physical altercation suddenly erupted between two passenger van drivers in front of Ratsada Pier in Phuket on Sunday afternoon. The spectacle, which was captured on video by a passing vehicle, soon became a local sensation on social media channels. Public outrage surged over the violent behaviour displayed by the drivers, often referred to as Phuket’s public transport drivers.

One of the duelists, Ritthidet “Tin” Kingkaew, a 35 year old man from Kapong District, Phang Nga, lodged a formal complaint at the Phuket City Police Station on the same day. The complaint was received by Police Lieutenant Colonel Charat Lemphan. Ritthidet, who operates a passenger van in Phuket, recounted the events leading up to the brawl.

Ritthidet received a passenger request via the Grab app. He arrived at the taxi queue near the exit of Ratsada Pier, positioning his van on the roadside in front of the pier. As he left his van to fetch the passengers, an unidentified man, approximately 40 years old, approached him. The man rebuked Ritthidet for parking his van in that area, arguing that it was used by other vehicles for U-turns.

Ritthidet responded that he wouldn’t be long, a reply that sparked off a heated debate. According to Ritthidet, the man attempted to strike him, leading Ritthidet to punch him first and place him in a headlock. Shortly after, three to four individuals joined the fray. The resulting injuries prompted Ritthidet to file a formal complaint with the police and press charges, reported The Phuket News.

The other man, known only as Jack, was summoned by Pol. Lt. Col. Charat to the Phuket City Police Station to give his version of events. Jack denied any threatening behaviour. He insisted that he merely asked Ritthidet to move his van, a request that was refused.

In Jack’s account of the events, he had asked Ritthidet to move his van slightly to facilitate the movement of other vehicles. Jack claims he walked away after Ritthidet ignored him, only to be punched by him moments later. This ignited the fight, with nearby bystanders intervening to separate them, contrary to Ritthidet’s claims of being ganged up on.

Parking dispute

One of the interveners, 48 year old Samai Prasertkarn, confirmed that they were unaware of the cause of the fight and that their only intention was to separate the two men. Samai, whose role in the taxi queue remains unconfirmed, added that Ritthidet’s van was indeed blocking the U-turn point and had refused to move despite the customer’s presence.

However, a 30 year old female witness provided a slightly different account. She claimed that Ritthidet had parked his van in front of the queue but not as part of it. According to her, Ritthidet was asked to move his van so another driver could take the lead position in the queue.

When Ritthidet refused, stating that he was awaiting his passengers, an argument ensued. The witness confirmed that the verbal abuse from the other driver caused Ritthidet to lash out and throw the first punch.

With the two drivers failing to reach a consensus, the Phuket City Police Station charged both men with jointly causing a quarrel in public on February 19.

The story Phuket passenger van drivers’ brawl sparks social media outrage as seen on Thaiger News.

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Author: Mitch Connor