Source: Bangkok Post
Thailand plans to collect so-called “Asean road tolls” from foreign motorists entering the country via border checkpoints from the end of next year.
Increasing travel on the Southeast Asian mainland has led to more road maintenance and safety concerns, the government says.
A study into toll collection, being conducted by the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning, is expected to be completed in the next month and it will take less than a year to gain state approval and amend laws to allow the new charges, the office’s deputy chief Wilairat Sirisophonsin said Monday.
In January next year, the Transport Ministry will be asked to look at the study results before forwarding the findings to the cabinet for a final say, she said.
According to a preliminary study, toll collections would be introduced in three phases. In the first three years, the tolls will be applied only to foreign four-wheel vehicles passing through 28 border checkpoints, from Myanmar, Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos.
Motorists would have to pay a 100-baht fee for an electronic tag which would be valid for five years, as well as a toll of 42 baht per trip, Ms Wilairat said.
In the first phase, her office plans to use a Radio Frequency Identification System to monitor cars at the 28 checkpoints.
From the fourth to seventh years, a Global Positioning System will be used to allow officials to precisely track the whereabouts of cars.
The technology will be good for a plan to start collecting tolls based on distance motorists travel, Ms Wilairat said. Officials are considering charging them 1.5 baht a kilometre, starting from the fourth year.
In the last phase, which will last from the eighth to the tenth years, other types of cars will be subject to toll collection. New border checkpoints will also be added.
Ms Wirairat said her office plans to have private companies invest in installing the toll collection system. She expected the whole project to cost 525 million baht and employ up to 260 officials.
Private companies will be given a share of the toll revenue, she said.
The office’s deputy chief insisted the tolls are needed since the establishment of the Asean Economic Community has resulted in more vehicles entering Thailand. The result is Thailand is having to bear higher costs in road maintenance and encountering more road accidents.
Last year, there were 2.1 million trips made by car through 28 checkpoints, according to her office. Most came from Laos (755,000), followed by Malaysia (596,000), Myanmar (495,000) and Cambodia (322,000).
According to Ms Wilairat, the government every year spends on average 15 billion baht on repairing and maintaining roads. Most damage to roads result from heavy goods transportation.
It also spends 2.4 billion baht a year as a result of road accidents.
Malaysia has collected a 20 Malaysian ringgit, or 160-baht toll from Thai vehicles, which include private cars, vans and buses since June.
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