South police work out of makeshift offices

Police at 11 stations in three provinces of the turbulent far South not only have to survive a hostile environment, they have to do it from makeshift offices without proper facilities -- because extensions and renovations promised years ago have not been built.

  • Published: 24/01/2013 at 04:08 PM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

According to the Southern Border Police Operations Centre, police assigned to 11 stations are working in temporary offices. Some have set up the makeshift working places on the station premises, others have been forced to work out of places such as a house built for welfare services use.

Six police stations in Narathiwat province, three in Pattani and two in Yala are affected.

Construction extensions or new offices have been halted, with some only half built, since mid-2012 because the builders ran out of money, said Pol Lt Gen Paitoon Chuchaiya, the head of the operations centre.

The centre has informed police headquarters in Bangkok about the unfinished projects, but there has been no answer on when the problems will end.

"The problem in some police stations is somewhat serious, because they have to turn a house into an office," Pol Lt Gen Paitoon said.

Police in the 11 stations in the far South are not alone in not having a proper place to work from. In total, the construction of 396 stations across the country has stalled, with some still at the initial starting phase -- such as the one in Thung Luang in Pak Tho district in Ratchaburi province.

"The construction of all the stations (in the South) will definitely be completed," said Pol Gen Paitoon.

The contracts for the 396 police stations are the sole responsibility of PCC Development and Construction Co (PCC), which won the bidding for a contract worth 5.8 billion baht signed on March 26, 2011, when the Democrat Party administered the country.

The firm was supposed to hand over the completed police stations to the Royal Thai Police Office on June 17 last year.

The struggling firm has been given an extended deadline for the project, to March 14 this year, but it seems very unlikely PCC will meet that date either given the snail's pace of the building.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has taken up the project for investigation after the Pheu Thai Party complained about suspicious irregularities, and has already suggested the police force scrap the project.

DSI director-general Tarit Pengdit has linked the problem to Suthep Thaugsuban, who was assigned by then prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to oversee the police agency when he was a deputy prime minister.

Mr Tarit has accused Mr Suthep of intervening in the project by ordering the police office to call for bids for a single contract to construct all 396 police stations, instead of allowing provincial police bureaus to call for tenders in their own jurisdictions. The decision eventually led to PCC to getting the contract to build them all.

Mr Suthep has not reacted to the allegation but the Democrat Party leader said on Tuesday that he was not aware of any irregularities or price collusion in the project, as alleged by the DSI.

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Writer: Muhammad Ayub Pathan
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