Various measures have been proposed to tackle the chronic traffic congestion in Bangkok after Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon gave relevant agencies one month to solve the traffic problems on the city’s 21 major roads.
Proposed solutions include setting up seperate divisions in municipal courts to specifically handle cases relating to traffic-law violations, improving traffic police personnel, road space rationing for odd-even licence-plate numbers, adjusting work hours to deal with rush hour traffic and quadrupling fines for those who fail to pay their traffic tickets.
A Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) subcommittee working on solving traffic congestion in Bangkok and surrounding provinces Thursday met to discuss possible solutions to the traffic gridlocks.
Representatives from the other 53 agencies involved in tackling the problem were also present.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon decreed on Thursday that authorities have a month to ‘clear Bangkok streets’ of rush-hour scenes like this – but gave no details on ‘or else’. (File photo by Patipat Janthong)
In the meantime, a seminar to discuss research work on traffic solutions was held Thursday.
Speaking after the meeting, MPB chief Sanit Mahathavorn said the Thailand Research Fund conducted a two-year study on traffic-related issues which offered several useful proposals to ease traffic problems, though they have not yet been put into action.
One proposal calls for the establishment of a traffic court to enforce stricter compliance with traffic laws, while other proposed measures ask that police and City Hall work together to regulate street vendors, improve traffic light systems and provide parking space around skytrain and subway stations.
Pol Lt Gen Sanit said Gen Prawit would also discuss with the Land Transport Department the possibility of more stringent measures against motorists who fail to pay their fines after breaking traffic laws.
They could have their driving licences suspended or revoked and could be made to pay a fine four times higher than the original.
The Bangkok police chief said the Na Ranong Road intersection where traffic from Sukhumvit, Ratchadaphisek, Asoke and Rama IV roads converge is one of the city’s major traffic concerns.
The congestion is further compounded by a rail line crossing the road.
Gen Prawit suggested another flyover be built over the rail crossing to ease congestion. Gen Prawit has also ordered traffic police to remove vehicles parked in the area that hinder traffic flow, Pol Lt Gen Sanit said.
He also said traffic police have set up a team to monitor traffic problems on all roads and the public can call the number “1197” around the clock for them to come and tackle any problems they witness.
Pol Lt Gen Sanit denied reports that 42 median strips in Bangkok’s roads would be removed.
Only some median strips that are too wide will be narrowed in size to allow for more traffic space, he said.
Pol Col Patchara Sinloyma, a researcher studying traffic problems, said the total number of traffic police officers in Bangkok is only 2,960, and more than 1,100 of them are 50 and older.
It is now important to design an efficient police personnel management plan to make the most of the current workforce, she said.
Other proposed solutions include training parents to pick up and drop their children in front of their schools more quickly, signing memorandums of understanding with department stores to regulate street vendors, along with some other measures.
Supatra Phanwichit, a researcher on a project to set up a traffic court in Bangkok, revealed a large number of traffic tickets have remained unpaid by traffic law violators, and police had made no serious efforts to follow up on those who refused to pay the fines which has resulted in them breaking traffic laws persistently.
She proposed that a division to handle traffic cases be established in each municipal court. Under the proposal, traffic police must send traffic tickets that remain unpaid to prosecutors who will then forward them to the court within 48 hours from the day the fine payment was due.
Those who are issued with the tickets must show up in court and pay the fine within seven days or the court will suspend or revoke their driving licence and issue a summons for them.
Ms Supatra said that the 1979 Land Traffic Act and the 1956 Municipal Court Establishment Act need to be amended to allow for the establishment of the traffic case divisions.
The Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning has also come up with measures to ease traffic congestion in Bangkok.
The short-term measures include strict enforcement of traffic laws to prevent motorists from parking in prohibited areas and jumping red lights, while increasing bus lanes on major streets.