Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchobhas has made two significant announcements about resolving the long standing issue of traffic problems on Rama II Road (Thailand Route 35).
The road starts from Bangkok’s Chom Thong District of western Bangkok before passing Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram as the main route to the Royal Coast and to other southern Thailand provinces.
The Minister has assured residents in Samut Sakhon that upgrade works on Rama II Road will be completed by the end of next year. Mr Saksayam earlier admitted the road upgrade faced delays due to a lack of heavy machinery.
Mr Saksayam made his pledge after he met residents, the president of the Federation of Land Transport of Thailand Apichart Pairungrueng, Samut Sakhon governor Somkid Chanthamaruk, Highways Department chief Anon Luangboriboon, Samut Sakhon police chief Pol Maj Gen Samart Srisiriwibulchai and contractors to discuss how they can help speed up the road works.
The urgent meeting was convened after a group calling itself “Rama II Road Loving Residents” voiced their frustration over the slow progress of the project.
The residents said they wanted the new government to speed up the work, which has been going on for two years. The group put up placards which said the “never-ending” construction has caused dust pollution and traffic gridlock.
Mr Saksayam Chidchob is also preparing for an alternative for trucks to avoid the route 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 the road.
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.
The minister said that road haulage firms have expressed a willingness to buy the ferries, each of which can be loaded with 180 trucks as they will incur lower costs.
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.
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.