Chatuchak market to go cashless from June, SRT says

Starting at mid-year the world's biggest weekend market is going to go 'Full 4.0' with stalls and even the parking area to switch to payment by card or QR code. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) aims to begin turning Chatuchak market into a cashless commercial area by June.

It said other upgrades linked to the market's "4.0" transformation, such as automated parking lots, will become available later this year.

Chatuchak's future cashless status will allow shoppers to pay for items with the use of a single card or by QR code, according to Siripong Preutthipan, SRT's director for land development.

He said the upgrades are an addition to the current Chatuchak Guide mobile application, which tells shoppers where listed stalls are, which are located by category, as well as stall ratings.

The new developments will also make it easier for tourists to navigate the market, Mr Siripong said.

He said some retailers could one day export their products abroad on an order-by-order basis, to cater to foreign markets in the future.

The SRT is planning to spend more than 100 million baht on developing Chatuchak market, starting with the introduction of automated parking lots, he said.

Each one, which will be able to hold 100 cars, will cost around 40 million baht to build.

Terms of reference for the construction and operation of the lots are being drafted by the authorities.

"The systems will comprise automated ticket dispensaries given out to vehicles as they enter," he said.

"Bidding for construction will begin mid-year, with the aim of making parking spaces available by year's end."

Meanwhile, a plan to build air-conditioned lavatories around the market has gained traction, with the SRT holding talks with private firms for construction rights.

When completed later this year, the lavatories will cost 10 baht, Mr Siripong said.

Chatuchak market has eight lavatory locations located around the market costing 2 baht for patrons to use.

Mr Siripong said the lavatories are also due for improvement, with a 25-million-baht upgrade project to go for bidding in March.

These upgraded facilities will also be ready by the end of the year, and cost 5 baht to use.

In a related development, Mr Siripong Thursday insisted higher rental rates at Chatuchak market were "reasonable" after vendors and stall owners urged the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration earlier this month to take back control of the market.

The SRT assumed control after City Hall's contract expired in late 2011.

Transport Ministry officials said control should rest with the SRT because the market is on the agency's land.

According to Mr Siripong, the SRT charges 3,157 baht a month, per lot.

He said City Hall's previous rental charge of around 600 baht per month was the result of cheap SRT land-lease fees, which have now become much more expensive.

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