Lorries to skirt jams via ocean route
RoRo ferries to help haulage to the South
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob is preparing to help lorries avoid bad traffic on Rama II Road by ushering in a fleet of Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) ferries to carry them to southern provinces.
He said on Monday the solution is not only less expensive compared with land transport, but it will also help relieve congestion on an 11-kilometre section of the road which is bottlenecked due to ongoing construction work.
The minister said that road haulage firms have expressed a willingness to buy the ferries, each of which can be loaded with 180 lorries, as they incur lower costs for a trip of more than 200 kilometres.
Under the plan, the Transport Ministry will open a new ocean route linking Laem Chabang seaport in Chon Buri on the eastern coast to Bang Saphan district in the southern province of Prachuap Khiri Khan.
In the next phase, Mr Saksayam added, the route will be extended to Songkhla in the far South.
The Land Transportation Association of Thailand welcomed the move and said many of its members agreed with the purchase of the RoRo ships.
Road haulage firms will jointly spend between 4 and 5 billion baht buying a fleet of six ferries.
"The first ship is expected to arrive in the next one or two months," association chief Aphichat Phrairungrueang said.
"This will be worth the investment because water transport is 50% cheaper than travel along roads.
"The former only requires between three and four baht per km while costs paid for the latter go up to eight baht per km," added Mr Aphichat.
According to the Transport Ministry, 60,000 trucks currently use Rama II Road as a main route to the southern region. Their numbers account for 30% of the daily 200,000 vehicles that use the road, which also links Bangkok, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram and Ratchaburi.
Mr Saksayam earlier admitted the road upgrade faced delays due to a lack of heavy machinery, but he promised to speed things up and expected the construction will be completed by the end of next year.
In the meantime, officials will work with traffic police to ease traffic congestion.
The minister described the current situation as "satisfactory" as the traffic jams have now been reduced to less than 400 metres in length.