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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

THAILAND - Officials appeal to public as mourners queue for 10 hours


Concerns over fairness of online system as people cut in line

OFFICIALS YESTERDAY asked for public suggestion on queue management at the Grand Palace after they found people waiting up to 10 hours on Sunday to say goodbye to the late King, despite continuing efforts to reduce waiting times.
“If anyone has ideas or best practices on how to better manage queues by deploying an offline and online queue registration system, please do not hesitate to tell us. We will give you credit if your suggestion is implemented,” said Maj-General Pongsawat Panchit, deputy commander of the First Region Army and deputy head of the Joint Administration of Security and Order Maintaining for the Grand Palace Vicinity (JSO).
Pongsawat’s comments at a press briefing followed mounting public concern over poor queue management, leading to day-long waits for people of all ages to get inside the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall to pay tribute to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who peacefully passed away on October 13.
As more than 20,000 people are entering the Grand Palace each day, with longer queues on weekends and holidays, the JSO has coordinated with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society to develop an online system for mourners to reserve places to get inside the complex. The system is slated to be implemented this month and start running on a trial basis on December 1.
However, the system has raised concerns that people would not be able to access it because it was online.
 “Taking this concern into consideration, we are still thinking about how to fairly apply the online system. Imagine, many people come without online registration in the early morning, wait for long hours, and those who register online just come and can cut into the lines and get inside right the way. This is going to hurt the waiting people’s feelings. We have to find ways that can manage people’s feelings,” Pongsawat said.
Pongsawat said the day-long queues were mainly the result of many people arriving at Sanam Luang, the park opposite the Grand Palace, at the same time.
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Health issues
“On Sunday, 20,000 people arrived at the field at the same time, around 7am. With a limited capacity to allow 2,000 people per hour to enter the Grand Palace, the last person who had waited since the morning would be able to get inside after 10 hours had passed,” he said.
People were advised to visit the Grand Palace in a staggered manner each day. People who live in Bangkok, including those living near the Grand Palace, should come in the afternoon rather than in the morning rush hours.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has set up dozens of tents to form seven indoor queues on the field to mitigate exposure to the sun.
Nevertheless, people are still cutting into lines and dozens of others pass out each day while waiting because of the heat or pre-existing health issues.
Pongsawat urged people to have sympathy for others and help each other while in queues.
He said the Royal Household Bureau was also concerned over people with poor health queuing.
Pongsawat recommended that sick people stay at home so their condition did not worsen.
Metropolitan Police Bureau deputy chief Maj-General Ittipol Piriyapinyo urged visitors to bring their identity cards or passports as they were required at security checkpoints around Sanam Luang.
Regarding increasing requests from organisations asking to arrange activities in memory of the King, Pongsawat said a committee chaired by a representative of the Ministry of Culture would consider activities and approve those that are appropriate to be held at Sanam Luang.

Source: TheNation