Ten years after procurement, 176 fire trucks to enter service

national September 22, 2016 01:00

By Tanatpong Kongsai

The Nation

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THE BANGKOK Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is preparing to finally commission 176 |fire trucks

Due to a decade-long legal dispute surrounding the controversial purchase, the desperately needed vehicles had been locked up in a warehouse, and are now in need of substantial repairs and maintenance.
The Mechanical Engineering Division of the BMA is now working to repair 71 of the fire trucks. 
“The cost of repair and maintenance for each of these trucks would be between Bt200,000 and Bt300,000,” Deputy Bangkok Governor Pol General Aswin Kwanmuang said yesterday.
He said 35 of the trucks should be ready for use before the end of this month. He said to repair these trucks, it would be necessary to break down one of the vehicles for parts. 
“Following the repairs, these fire trucks should be in usable condition for at least five years,” Aswin said. The trucks were not commissioned soon after Austrian supplier Steyr-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeug delivered them in 2006 due to a Bt6.6-billion corruption scandal. Senior officials including ex-former deputy interior minister Pracha Maleenont were convicted in the scandal. Pracha is now on the run.
Last year, an arbitrator based in Switzerland ordered Steyr-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeug, an Austrian manufacturer of fire trucks, to pay Bt800 million to the BMA and suggested that the BMA should use the vehicles. 
On August 31 this year, the BMA brought the trucks out of the warehouse.
“We have checked the vehicles and found that we should be able to fix 71 trucks. But in the cases of 105 other fire vehicles, the BMA’s Mechanical Engineering Division cannot handle the repairs. So, we will have to hire an expert later,” Aswin explained yesterday. 
He said the 71 repaired trucks should be ready and in operation by the Bangkok Fire and Rescue Department by the end of next month. 
“For the 105 fire vehicles to be repaired by an expert, we will choose a contractor in December and we expect to see the repairs done within a budget of Bt153 million by March 2017,” he said. 
Today, the BMA will meet with representatives of the Namyong Terminal Public Company Limited to discuss the massive parking fee related to the fire vehicles that were held in its facilities for 10 years. 
The court has arranged the mediation sessions for the firm and the BMA. 
“The firm still demands about Bt427 million in parking fees. But we will be able to pay Bt200 million at the most,” Aswin said. 
Bangkok Fire and Rescue Department deputy chief Somkiat Nontakaew said his department now had about 500 fire vehicles. “But most of them have been in services for well over 20 years already,” he said. “Normally, the life of such vehicles ranges between 15 and 20 years only.”