Stink bombs deployed in market riot
Klong Toey fresh market was engulfed with a vile stench yesterday as vendors used homemade stink bombs — pla ra (fermented fish) — to fend off redevelopment workers and police.
The turmoil took place when about 100 vendors tried to stop Legal Profession Co staff led by chairman Thammanat Prompao from setting up tents to be used as a temporary substitute for their stalls after work began on renovations.
About 300 officers from the Metropolitan Police Bureau and Port Police Station were called in to protect the workers, who were greeted by jeers and pelted with objects by enraged vendors.
Chokchai Deeprasertwit, chief of the bureau’s Division 5, said police were called in at the request of the firm.
The Port Authority of Thailand, which owns the land on which the market stands, refused to renew contracts with three former market operators and awarded a concession to the company.
The change in concession fuelled fears of eviction among the vendors, which has resulted in a prolonged conflict between the new developer and traders.
Pol Maj Gen Chokchai said talks between representatives from Legal Profession, the vendors and the port authority had failed to end the deadlock.
Kitja Monwong, who represented the authority, said Legal Profession had the right to improve the market.
Tensions flared as vendors tried to force out the workers and policemen from the market by having female vendors form a human shield with a backup team hurling bags of pla ra stink bombs.
Fifty riot control policemen were called in to reinforce the officers mobilised to keep the crowd under control.
The number of rampaging vendors swelled to more than 300 and spilled into an intersection on Rama IV Road, causing heavy traffic congestion. They occupied the intersection, roping off the area with garbage bins.
The situation worsened when pork vendor Suwit Ngamtuen, 32, was arrested. A police van was mobbed by angry vendors as his wife and weeping daughter asked police to release him.