January 13, 2020 / 5:14 AM / 14 days ago

Thai king orders new traffic rules to curb congestion from royal motorcades

FILE PHOTO: File picture of Thai traffic police stopping vehicles as King Maha Vajiralongkorn's convoy passes near the Grand Palace, ahead of the King's coronation, in Bangkok, Thailand May 2, 2019. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun/File Photo

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn has ordered police to stop completely blocking roads in Bangkok for royal motorcades, a government spokeswoman said.

The order followed rare criticism of royal motorcades and other inconveniences that Thais have aired online in recent months.

Thai police will instead block off only a part of the roads for the motorcade, said spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat on her Facebook page.

She also posted a video outlining the new rules, which also included allowing people to resume using bridges that tower over the motorcade route.

“His Majesty the King is concerned his royal travel or that of the royal family’s could affect Thai people’s commute,” said a voice-over in the video.

Bangkok is one of the most congested major cities in the world, ranking 11th on U.S.-based traffic analytics firm INRIX’s Global Traffic Scorecard in 2017.

Last year, the #royalmotorcade hashtag became one of the top-trending subjects on Thai-language Twitter.

Another recent hashtag, #islandsclosure, also rose to the top of the Twitter trending list over the New Year’s holidays, as southern tourist islands were closed off for visits by the king’s youngest daughter.

Thailand has a tough law against insulting the king, queen, heir or regent. Anyone who violates this law faces up to 15 years in prison.

Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan

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