Thousands of workers flown home

Embassies facilitate return from Europe

More than 4,000 Thais have returned home after working in orchards in Sweden and Finland.

Natapanu Nopakun, deputy spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said 4,300 Thais had been repatriated during September and October with the assistance of Thai embassies in the northern European countries.

Mr Natapanu said hundreds of Thais were being flown home every day, with 895 on board the latest flights, on Oct 8.

Thailand’s embassies in Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland had pushed for health measures for fruit farmers to follow and demanded they pay for the Covid-19 tests and quarantine charges for their Thai workers to reduce the burden on the Thai government.

The ministry quickly arranged the workers’ Certificates of Entry and asked the farmers to organise the repatriation flights.

Mr Natapanu insisted the measures taken to protect the Thai workers had been properly followed and the ministry had coordinated with local authorities to ensure the workers received the benefits they were entitled to.

Meanwhile, Apichart Pairoonrueng, president of the Land Transportation Association of Thailand (LTAT), says the Covid-19 pandemic has now led to a costly slowdown in the transportation of construction materials, including bricks and sand.

The LTAT is the country’s largest land transport trade association, with 10 large companies as members and 400,000 freight trucks under its umbrella.

“Most freight trucks now carry consumer goods but the amount of activity is small and cannot be compared to the pre-Covid-19 period,” said Mr Apichart.

He said operators were now fighting for their survival and employing all cost-cutting methods to stay afloat.

“Some companies are even using outsourcing services to cut costs,” he said. “Companies also need to negotiate with their banks to defer debt payments.”

However, Mr Apichart said the government had not yet helped transport companies.

He said the LTAT and companies involved had asked the government to defer tax payments for another four to five months but not received any reply from the government.

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