How Japanese firms are cashing in on Bangkok’s traffic jams
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How Japanese firms are cashing in on Bangkok’s traffic jams

BANGKOK is known for its bustling streets and limited parking spaces which add to its congestion woes, but some Japanese parking companies are looking to make a fortune out of its traffic jams.

These companies included Nippon Parking Development (Thailand) Co., the local chapter of Japan’s Nippon Parking Development Co. which operates more than 30 parking buildings in the capital.

Recording solid growth in operating revenue, the Osaka-based firm has set up shop in Thailand since 2010 and has since implemented an automatic fare adjustment system, electronic signage to show space availability and surveillance cameras in parking facilities, and trimmed labour costs, according to the Japan Times.

Now the company has also seen a 90 percent surge in operating revenue at some of its parking lots where the advanced initiatives were introduced.

Other services Nippon offers include designated VIP and semi-VIP lots to increase its profitability.

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“In Bangkok, the number of newly registered vehicles has topped 400,000 units annually in the last several years, equivalent to over 1,000 cars per day,” Kenji Kawamura, president of the Thai unit was quoted as saying.

He added: “The combined length of a car body, let’s say 5 meters each, amounts to a row of 5 km daily.”

Kawamura said Bangkok has only 300,000 to 400,000 parking bays compared to the city’s volume of four to five million vehicles.

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Heavy traffic leads in and out of downtown Bangkok at dawn on Feb 22, 2017. Source: AFP

But even though the government had pledged to add 40,000 parking lots along railway lines by 2029, the demand is surging beyond the figure.

Generally, parking operations in the country were not profitable as building owners offer free parking space to tenants while shopping mall operators charge low fees.

Some parking operators also faced leakages in their finances as parking fees were allegedly embezzled.

These were among the reasons why developers and landowners avoid building car parks.

“Parking fees should be raised in line with growing income to create better car parks,” Kawamura said.

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However, automated parking systems are mushrooming in Bangkok owing to the rising number of condominium development in recent years.

Kentaro Taki, general manager of Space Value (Thailand) Co., a local joint venture of Nissei Build Kogyo Co., a Japanese architecture design and construction firm, said: “Five years ago, I believe only 1 of 10 prime condos in Bangkok employed an automated parking system, but now 8 of 10 do so,”

Another company IHI Asia Pacific (Thailand) Co, is looking to install an automatic underground parking system at a condo complex in Bangkok next year.

Kai Miyake, general manager of sales and marketing of the Thai arm, was quoted as saying that the parking system features flexible parking lot layouts and efficient use of space and quick car retrieval.

The makes it the first smart parking debut in Thailand.

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