MRTA pulls Purple Line bids

MRTA pulls Purple Line bids

Says Covid playing havoc with process

The northern section of the Purple Line is operational but the planned bidding for the southern extension is scrapped. (Bangkok Post photo)
The northern section of the Purple Line is operational but the planned bidding for the southern extension is scrapped. (Bangkok Post photo)

The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) has scrapped the planned bidding for the 82.3-billion-baht southern extension of the Purple Line, citing a lack of public participation.

MRTA governor Pakapong Sirikantaramas said he has signed an order cancelling the bidding for the 23.6-kilometre Tao Poon-Rat Burana extension because requirements under the integrity pact were not properly followed.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, MRTA officials are unable to deliver some of the bidding documents to third-party observers from the civic sector. A number of MRTA staff are also under Covid-19 quarantine, he said.

It is best that the agency scraps the bidding to ensure transparency in a project worth 78.7 billion baht, he said.

Under the bidding timetable, private firms were to buy bid envelopes from July 5-Oct 7 and submit their offers on Oct 8. As of Aug 19, eight firms -- six Thai and two foreign -- had purchased bid envelopes.

The winner was expected to be announced late this year, with the contract signing to take place in January next year. Train services were expected to begin in 2027.

The bids were to be scored based on their technical specifications (30%) and return of investment (70%).

According to the MRTA, technical specifications and return of investment proposals were to be considered simultaneously because the project requires construction expertise.

Some sections will be built underground to avoid land acquisition problems in several Bangkok old town areas including Dusit district, Phra Nakhon district, and Pomprap Sattruphai district.

These districts house old communities and major business areas such as Bang Lamphu and Yaowarat's Chinatown.

However, some critics were concerned about the criteria because for several large infrastructure projects, bidders will have to pass technical specifications before their return of investment proposals are considered.

The project drew criticism early this year when Wat Iam Woranuch, on Samsen Road in Bangkok's Phra Nakhon district, claimed temple land would be appropriated for the Purple Line.

The MRTA insisted the impact caused by Purple Line construction on the temple would be minimised and that the 237-year-old chapel and pagoda would not be demolished.

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