The natural gas for vehicles (NGV) market in Thailand feels the sting as the price per kilogram skyrockets to almost 20 baht, causing a simmering unease among truck operators who finally bring their grievances forward to the Energy Ministry.
On a sober Monday, a noteworthy collection of 64 transportation operators sat around a vast table, their faces etched with distress as they aired their mounting concerns. This meeting was steered by two eminent personalities – Apichart Pairoongreung, the resolute chairperson of the Land Transport Federation of Thailand, and Jitakorn Padetsuk, the influential leader of the Chachoengsao Chamber of Commerce.
In the early hours of a chilly September 16 morning, the retail price of NGV witnessed an unsettling surge from 18.59 baht to 19.59 baht per kilogram. The whispers of another likely escalation to 20.59 baht per kilo by the year-end, specifically mid-December, only add to the growing trepidation among transport operators.
This unpredicted price hike has delivered a heavy blow to the transport operators’ pockets, who are grappling with the financial tension this has spurred.
The humble beginnings of NGV can be traced back to 2002 when it was introduced to the market at a comfortable price of just 8.50 baht per kilo. It emerged as a promising alternative fuel since it could be produced domestically – an initiative encouraged emphatically by the government.
Riding high on the government’s backing, NGV turned into the fuel of choice among public transport vehicles and a large fleet of trucks around 2005.
But the path has not been a bed of roses. The unending and unexpected price augmentations are throwing severe challenges at the doorsteps of operators who had poured massive investments into NGV-powered vehicles and its supporting infrastructure.
Determined to bring about a change, they are now beseeching the concerned authorities to step in and ensure a fair and just pricing strategy. Their concerns are destined to reach the desk of Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin sooner rather than later, demanding prompt attention and remedial intervention.