Rail Construction Halted, Drivers Fined as Smog Persists

Black exhaust pours from a Bangkok bus in April 2018. Photo: @Shifthappensbkk / Twitter
Black exhaust pours from a Bangkok bus in April 2018. Photo: @Shifthappensbkk / Twitter

BANGKOK — Major construction will be suspended and gross polluters busted across the capital as the authorities struggle to reduce the unhealthy smog levels which have plagued the capital for days.

Rail construction in areas including Lat Phrao and Ramkhamhaeng will be suspended until Tuesday in the most significant measure announced to mitigate pollution levels that remained at unhealthy levels as of Thursday morning.

The traffic police fined more than 1,000 drivers at 20 checkpoints since Tuesday for operating vehicles with emissions over the legal limit.

Read: Bangkok Pollution Has Always Been Bad – So Have the Solutions: Experts

The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority will also convert more than 2,700 buses to biodiesel and purchase nearly 2,200 green energy vehicles to service the capital in the near future, according to Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.

These were among many announced measures to address public concern over the worsening of air pollution since last month. They come on the heels of much-criticized efforts from City Hall that have included spraying water into the air and hosing down streets.

The Pollution Control Department on Thursday acknowledged that spraying water cannot reduce the amount of ultrafine PM2.5 particles – the most harmful type – but defended the effort for having helped curbing overall particulate levels.

Maj. Gen. Nithitorn Jintakanon, traffic police commander, said vehicles that exceed permitted emissions will be marked and given 30 days to fix the problem or risk seizure. The law says repeat offenders can be fined up to 5,000 baht.