City traffic jams burn up B97m of fuel a day

City traffic jams burn up B97m of fuel a day

Gridlocked motorists on Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road in Bangkok on Aug 2, 2016.(Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
Gridlocked motorists on Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road in Bangkok on Aug 2, 2016.(Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

Traffic jams in Bangkok and other big cities waste about 97 million baht worth of fuel each day on average, or about 35 billion baht a year, according to the chairman of a National Reform Steering Assembly sub-panel tasked with tackling the congestion on our roads.

The chronic traffic problem needed to be urgently addressed as it affected not only people's lives and the environment, but was also a huge economic loss, said Seree Suwanpanont, chairman of the sub-committee overseeing road safety.

He blamed the 97 million baht wastage on inadequate road infrastructure and the rapid increase in the number of cars on city streets.

Last year, about 9 million vehicles were registered in Bangkok and surrounding provinces, but the existing road system could accommodate only 1.5 million vehicles, Mr Seree said.

Traffic authorities should take serious action to control the number of vehicles on the streets at any time. He shrugged off the suggestion that vehicles with even-numbered licence plates and those with odd-numbered plates should use certain roads on alternate days.

The odd-even plate number idea was not workable, he said, unless zoning was also introduced, to collect fees from motorists using roads during rush hours.

His panel had already proposed urgent reforms aimed at traffic congestion and road safety problems, to be put on the national agenda.

Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said on Thursday he had instructed Pol Lt Gen Sanit Mahathavorn, acting commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, to increase the number of traffic police in all areas. Gen Prawit also sought the cooperation of commuters, asking they shift from using personal cars to public transport.

National police chief Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda said what he wanted most was more police directing traffic flow on city roads. He has ordered riot-control police to serve as temporary traffic police in the Bangkok area.

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