PRIME Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has used emergency powers to require the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) to speed up the hiring of a private operator to run extensions of the BTS rail system’s Green Line.
Prayut’s use of his authority under Article 44 of the interim constitution also included an order for the establishment of a committee that would cut through wrangling over the fares to be charged on the Green Line and its extensions. The action requires that negotiations with the Green Line concessionaire, Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTSC), must be finalised within 30 days.
The Green line extensions cover Baring-Samut Prakan and Mo Chit-Saphan Mai-Ku Kot.
According to the website of the Royal Gazette, the order by Prayut, as chief of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), requires the BMA to hire a private enterprise to install the electric system to get the extensions up and running quickly in order to ease traffic problems. The hiring arrangement would not come under a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme.
To ensure that the Green Line and its extensions are run as the same network, a committee must be established by Ministry of Interior and will be chaired by the Interior Ministry’s permanent-secretary and include the Finance Ministry’s permanent-secretary, the Budget Bureau’s director-general, the secretary-general of the Council of State, the secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board, the attorney-general, and the director-general of State Enterprise Policy Office as well as experts in finance and electric train systems.
The committee will define the benefit-sharing criteria and other criteria for a combination of the Green Line extensions of Saphan Taksin-Bang Wa and Onnut-Baring, as well as the extensions of Baring-Samut Prakan and Mo Chit-Saphan Mai-Ku Kot, while finalising the negotiations with Green Line concessionaire BTSC, a subsidiary of BTS Group Holdings. The 30 days applies from the date of the appointment of the committee.
Once the negotiations are completed, the contract adjustments must be finalised within 30 days of the amended contract being forwarded to the interior minister, the Office of Attorney General and the Cabinet, respectively.
Anat Arpapirom, an adviser to BTSC, which operates the BTS skytrain, said had earlier said the company has been engaged in continuous negotiations with the BMA over the fares to be charged, but that the BMA has not yet given it detailed information.
Separately, Worawut Mala, acting governor of the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), said that the PPP committee and a CP Group-led consortium have been negotiating the detailed wording for a contract underpinning a high-speed rail project that will connect Thailand’s three main airports - Don Mueang International in Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi International in Samut Prakan and U-Tapao in Rayong.
The drafting of the contract is expected to be completed after the Songkran holiday.
The PPP committee’s members will convene again to check the draft contract before it is forwarded to the attorney-general. A contract signing is expected in May.
“Now, there are no talks about 12 proposals as those are outside the request for proposal (RFP) that have been already negotiated,” Worawut said.
“The committee refused them and the consortium conceded it would withdraw the proposals. After this, talks will involve only details to draft the contract.”
In other infrastructure developments, Somjin Piluek, governor of the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT), said that the PPP committee is negotiating with the only bidder for the third phase (Part 1) of the Map Ta Phut Port project, the Gulf and PTT Tank Joint Venture. The joint venture consists of Gulf Energy Development Plc and PTT Tank Terminal Co Ltd.
The winner is expected to be announced this month, with the contract signing likely in June, he said.
On February 15, the Gulf and PTT Tank Joint Venture submitted its bid, including technical and price proposals, for the project.
The project’s development consists of two phases worth a total of Bt55.4 billion.
The first part involves infrastructure development with the 200-rai, Bt47.9-billion port area. The IEAT will need to invest no more than Bt12.9 billion and the private consortium about Bt35 billion.
The second part will relate to the port and the IEAT will announce the bidding for development by a private enterprise, which will develop a terminal for liquid products with a capacity of about 4 million tonnes a year. The construction is estimated to begin in 2023 and services to start by 2025, with an estimated investment of Bt4.3 billion.