11 July 2024

The Thai Ministry of Transport plans to procure body cameras to be used by officials working at weighbridges on the country’s highways and rural roads, to prevent them from demanding bribes from overloaded truck drivers.

A fact-finding committee on the overloaded truck bribery scandal met today (Friday) to discuss the matter and consider measures to tackle the problem.  

The committee comprises representative from the Highways, Rural Roads and Land Transport departments, as well as the Highway Police Division.

Pisak Jitviriyavasin, deputy permanent secretary of transport, said after the meeting that they agreed that there are loopholes in the current system for monitoring overloaded trucks, allowing unscrupulous officials, including police, to demand bribes.

He said that the meeting concluded that new technology, such as bodycams, should be introduced, which could reduce the opportunities for corruption.

The primary function of bodycams is to provide an audio and visual record of events. The cameras are high-resolution and provide a crystal clear view. Using bodycams, law enforcement authorities get the real picture of the events from the officer’s perspective.

The devices help to gather evidence and protect the officers against false allegations of misconduct and the public against abuse of authority. They not only enhance the accountability of the officers, but also increase professionalism throughout the force.

There 97 weighbridges across the country operated by the Highways Department and five others operated by the Rural Roads Department. Officials take turns to operate them.

Chirapong Theppithuck, deputy director-general of the Highways Department, admitted that several weighbridges are not efficient, as it was discovered that trucks occasionally skip them.

He said that the Highways Department will have to cooperate with the Land Transport Department to crack down on overloaded and speeding trucks, adding that speeding can be detected by a GPS system and, if the trucks are also overloaded, they can be fined for that as well.