1,000 Rice Farmers Cut Off Highways Near Bangkok

 | Tue 4 Feb 2014 09:11 ICT

CityNews – Rice farmers have been growing increasingly agitated in recent weeks due to a failed payment by the government as part of the national rice-pledging program. Now, over 1,000 rice farmers from seven provinces have formed blockades on important highways near the capital.

The farmers are from Kanchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Songkhram, Suphan Buri, Ratchaburi, and are protesting against the delay in payment from the government, who promised to pay the farmers double the market rate per tonne of rice the farmers provided. The rice farmers are angry that they have provided their harvests to the government and are yet to reap their reward, which has led to them promising to keep highways closed until they receive what is owed to them.

Motorists coming from Bangkok and Nakhon Pathom into Ratchaburi were held up on the Phetkasem Highway, and were forced to take a detour which added 10 km onto their journeys. The Rama II Highway was also blocked by the protesting farmers, which resulted in vehicles whose destination was Petchaburi province, missing a shortcut to the south and having to take a long detour on a small seaside road.

A smaller number of farmers also set up blockades on Highway 117 in the northern Phichit province, saying they were waiting for fellow rice farmers to join them from nearby provinces Kamphaeng Phet and Nakhon Sawan. It is expected that their numbers will reach at least 2,000.

Highway 117 is a vital connection to the north of the country, and will be detrimental for motorists travelling north, while traffic travelling between Bangkok and Hua Hin, Samui, Phuket and other parts of Southern Thailand have all been and will continue to be negatively affected.