BANGKOK, Jan 9 – Caretaker Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt on Thursday reassured the public that the transport system in the Thai capital will not be paralysed when the anti-government demonstrators carry out their planned blockage of Bangkok’s major streets on Monday.
Mr Chadchart gave his assurances to a meeting chaired by caretaker Prime Minister/Defence Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to seek measures to facilitate tourists during the closure of seven major streets in Bangkok. The move came following concerns that the closure may disrupt how passengers get to their accommodations in town.
Mr Chadchart said the tourists have been advised to use Airport Rail Link and seek travel information and other updates from a tourist centre recently set up at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Caretake prime minister Yingluck, in her capacity as caretaker defence minister, said about 30 flights operated by Singapore Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines and Cathay Pacific have been cancelled even though the protesters did not mention the shutdown of Suvarnabhumi airport. U-Tapao and Don Mueang Airport, however, are ready to accommodate travellers in case of emergency.
Mr Chadchart said a center has been set up to monitor the situation. Public can get updates at www.MOT.go.th and Hotline number 1356.
The minister said he was positive that the planned shutdown by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) would not affect how people commute as public transport will operate normally on Monday. However, there will be a final rehearsal for all the public transportation systems on Friday in preparation for the shutdown next week.
Tourism Council of Thailand president Piyaman Tejapaibul said the Bangkok shutdown is expected to slash the country’s tourism revenues by 16 per cent, losing about Bt18 billion and 400,000 fewer tourist arrivals. She affirmed that the Thai tourism sector has been fully prepared to support international tourists in order to maintain a positive image of the country during the mass protest.