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.
The conflagration erupted at 11.15 am on Bangkok’s Sukhumvit road at Soi 103. Dozens of armed motorcycle taxi operators, dressed in orange jackets, were involved. Both sides went at each other. A swift response by The police and emergency services helped bring the mayhem under control. In its aftermath, two men were confirmed dead. A 20 year old man who worked with a courier service, was shot in the head in front of his home and a 33 year old Thai man who died later at hospital. Another 20 year old man suffered severe knife wounds to the head. It is understood that at least ten arrest warrants for murder have been issued by police in Bangkok who have launched and promised a major investigation into the incident.
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.
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.