BANGKOK – Motorway travel will be free during the Songkran festival, from 1600, 10 April to 2400, 16 April, to encourage Thais to travel by car to visit friends and relatives in the provinces.
The concession applies to motorways 9 and 7 that skirt Bangkok and connect with highways to the North near Bang Pa-In and to the East in Chonburi linking resorts such as Pattaya and Rayong with Bangkok.
Thailand’s Highway Department director, Chatchawan Boonjaroenkit, said travellers will also be exempt from paying tolls on the Bangkok-Chon Buri motorway and the Bang Pa-in-Bang Phli outer ring road for seven days.
“The aim is to lower costs for travellers who wish to visit their hometowns during the festival,” he said.
The department forecasts a revenue loss of about Bt105 million due to the toll exemptions.
The department has also prepared measures to improve road safety during Songkran, which is infamous for its death toll and accidents that exceed what is experienced in a war zone. The department has repaired roads near accident-prone spots and installed additional lights and sign posts.
Meanwhile, the Expressway Authority of Thailand will also waive fee on the Burapa Withi expressway (Bangkok-Chonburi) for seven days, starting 0001 on 10 April to 2400, 16 April.
In addition, to tighten safety measures during the Songkran festival, this year, several government agencies issued a list of risky behavior.
There are 11 “Don’ts” to keep in mind to stay safe during the holiday according to government officials:
• Don’t buy or sell anything on the sidewalk, (This will be ignored by the thousands of vendors who pack the capital’s streets and almost all tourists and residents);
• Don’t turn on your stereo amplifier;
• Don’t carry water in your pickup truck;
• Don’t play with water in your pickup truck;
• Don’t use high-pressure water guns;
• Don’t throw ice at other people;
• Don’t use baby powder;
• Don’t harass women;
• Don’t sell alcohol in alcohol-free zones;
• Don’t consume alcohol in cars;
• Don’t drive and drink.
The main cause of accidents is drink-driving. The risk of encountering a drunk driver, either on a motor cycle or behind the wheel of a car, are high regardless of the time of day during the festival. – by Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit