Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob has instructed the Department of Land Transport (DLT) to conduct within 30 days a feasibility study on imposing additional fees on all vehicles contributing to the PM2.5 air pollution while also beefing up checkpoints nationwide to detect and pull out vehicles that emit “black smoke” from their exhausts.
Saksayam said he assigned the DLT to draw up guidelines for collecting the fees and tax during vehicle license and tax renewal and during the registration of new vehicles of the types known to generate PM2.5.
This move would require the Transport Ministry to integrate and coordinate with Energy, Industry and Finance ministries while also requiring cooperation from Thai citizens, he noted.
The DLT also must study ways in which excise tax collection can be improved so as to help lower the price of clean energy vehicles and explore other measures to promote the Thai public’s increased use of Electric Vehicle (EV), natural gas and B20 biodiesel.
Saksayam said he set a 30-day time frame for the DLT to conduct and complete the studies after which public hearings would be organized and the measures be proposed for the Cabinet’s consideration so that, if approved, they could be implemented this year.
Meanwhile, the National Environment Board’s first annual meeting, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwon, has resolved to make the PM2.5 air pollution a national agenda and to apply measures as per the plan for tackling this small particle pollution, which was approved by the Cabinet on October 1, 2019. Prawit also instructed the Bangkok governor to consider more intensive measures appropriate to the PM2.5 situation to prevent and reduce health impacts.
The board meeting also instructed the Transport Ministry to procure more opacity meters and the DLT to join with police in beefing up 50 checkpoints across Bangkok to detect and pull out vehicles that emitted black exhaust smoke and to add similar checkpoints nationwide too.
State agencies were ordered to check their vehicles and maintain them in good condition as well as consider adjusting the working hours of officials to help reduce pollution. State officials were also urged to reduce the use of personal cars and to use public transport instead.
According to a report by the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning, 57,971 buses and trucks were inspected between October, 2019 until January 22, 2020. A total of 1,087 vehicles were found to emit heavy exhaust fumes exceeding the legal level and were thus marked with a spray paint to ban them for use on roads. If these vehicles were still being used without undergoing and passing another test, they would be subject to a Bt50,000 fine. Personal cars with the same problem would also be fined by police at Bt1,000.
Referring to the Department of Rail Transport’s measure for tackling PM2.5, Saksayam also revealed that the department was discussing with the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand the offering of a 50-per-cent discount on parking fees at the Park & Ride buildings under the Blue and Purple Lines so as to motivate more people to use electric trains.