A project that looked doomed from the start
A contract to build police stations and living quarters appears suspect; can the public have any hope the investigation will root out the guilty?The delay in the construction of 396 police stations and 163 apartment blocks for police officers across the country reveals deep-rooted corruption at every level - national, regional and local.
The investigation launched into the construction contract for police stations will need to assess the involvement of politicians, officials at the local administration level and the police themselves.
The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) is investigating corruption charges against former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who was in charge of the police when the construction contract was awarded to PCC Construction and Development Co in March 2011 to build 396 station offices and 163 apartment blocks. PCC was the sole contractor.
After two years, construction has barely begun. The abandoned sites are shameful testimony to the alleged graft.
Since he oversaw police operations, Suthep cannot deny responsibility for awarding this massive project to a company that clearly lacks the capability to complete the work.
Suthep and his Democrat Party cannot simply brush aside the allegations. He must fully cooperate with the investigation, to find and bring to justice the people who have caused such damage to the country. The then-police chief cannot deny responsibility either, because approval of a project of this scale would not be possible without his blessing.
Those in the current administration must bear their share of any blame as well for not detecting the problem sooner. The Cabinet extended the contract three times due to problems arising during the initial construction, such as the 2011 flood crisis and delays in the delivery of building supplies.
PCC and its local sub-contractors were given extremely lenient treatment until the issue became headline news.
The award of such a big contract also involves senior officials in the police department and local administrative bodies because it involves sub-contractors who apparently have connections with powerful people at the local administrative level.
Exactly how PCC managed to win the contract must be investigated. The entire project would cost more than Bt6 billion. It's been reported that PCC received around Bt877 million in advance. If the company has failed to complete work on schedule, it must be held accountable. The identities of the management and executives of the company should be made public and their backgrounds should be investigated.
So far it seems that only 5 per cent the project has been completed, even though the contract is set to expire next month. With so little work completed, it remains to be seen what the government will do with the structures built so far. Will it proceed with the construction or abandon the sites altogether?
The damage caused by the scandal is not limited to the delay and wasted construction cost, but also related expenses, such as the fees for temporary police offices and apartment blocks leased from private landlords.
A Pheu Thai Party politician made this case public. Let's hope the investigation into the alleged corruption will be carried out in earnest and honestly, to tell the public the truth.