Gen Anupong has come under fire following mounting criticism over the proposed procurement of the units which cost almost 700,000 baht each.
The cabinet on Oct 10 approved the proposed purchase of the 849 handheld speed guns for the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation at a total cost of 573 million baht.
The planned purchase came under fire after several critics said the procurement was vastly overpriced.
Veera Somkwamkid, a political activist, said the price quoted by the Interior Ministry is eight times higher than market price. He said the devices are usually sold on the open market at 130,000 baht each.
Facebook page CSI LA noted that the device is quoted on www.radarguns.com at US$1,000 per unit (about 34,000 baht).
Gen Anupong said yesterday the national road safety committee recently decided that to deal with increasing road accidents, it needs modern tools and equipment to facilitate enforcement of traffic laws.
As a result, the purchase of the speed guns was proposed in order to strengthen the police's ability to target accident blackspots.
Gen Anupong defended himself, saying that he was unaware of the pricing of the equipment, and it has only been his role to pass on the requests of the agencies to the cabinet.
After the cabinet approved the purchase, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation took on responsibility for the ins and outs of the deal, not the Interior Ministry, he said, despite the fact that the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation falls under the supervision of his ministry.
Chayapol Thitisak, director-general of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, said yesterday that speeding is a prime concern, the main cause of road accidents and the reason that the government has set road safety as a national priority.
The national road safety committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, recently resolved to buy the equipment and assigned the department, which is a secretariat of the committee, to be responsible for the purchase.
He said the 675,000-baht price was set after his office had conducted research, consulted several suppliers and assessed the quality of the equipment.
The devices, if purchased, will be allocated to the department's provincial offices and local authorities, including police, land transport officers and local administrative officials.
Mr Chayapol said the department is in the process of setting up a committee to oversee the procurement. The committee will consist of representatives of agencies concerned, including the Royal Thai Police, the Department of Land Transport and the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation. He said representatives of media will be invited to join the committee to ensure transparency.
He insisted that the proposed procurement is also based on the requests of road safety networks and campaigners who want authorities to strictly enforce laws to reduce road accidents and deaths.
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