Chadchart given Green Line chalice

Chadchart given Green Line chalice

Commuters mustn't suffer, says Prayut

A BTS train runs on the Green Line extension. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool)
A BTS train runs on the Green Line extension. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has made it clear that he wants to see Bangkok governor-elect Chadchart Sittipunt settle the long-standing dispute over the extension of the Green Line electric concession.

"The longer this issue is left to drag on, the longer the commuters will continue to suffer. We want to see this matter resolved successfully with help from all sides," said Gen Prayut.

He was responding to questions from media over the Green Line issue and the role of the new Bangkok governor.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and the Interior Ministry have insisted on pushing for the extension of the Green Line concessions for another 30 years after they expire in 2029, despite fierce criticism from consumer groups, the opposition Pheu Thai Party and Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob of the Bhumjaithai Party, a key coalition party.

The dispute has seen the proposal hit an impasse on eight occasions when it was put before the cabinet.

Responding to the remark, Mr Chadchart asked why the concessions were previously extended under the special power invoked by Gen Prayut under Section 44 during the interim constitution, rather than making the process conform to the public-private joint venture law in order to ensure transparency in the process.

He also questioned whether transferring debts of more than 60 billion baht incurred during the construction of the Green Line extensions from the government to the BMA had ever been approved by the Bangkok Council.

Mr Chadchart said he is also determined to find out if the BMA's decision to grant the concession to Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC) to operate the service until 2029 was a violation of the public-private joint venture law.

Apart from the fact the deal was brokered using the special powers afforded by Section 44, he said he still has no other information as to why the deadlock has lasted such a long time.

Mr Chadchart promised that he would study everything that has happened so far in relation to the deal in great detail before making up his mind about what the most appropriate next steps should be.

Speaking at a forum in February, Mr Chadchart made it clear that he was strongly opposed to the current timeline, which would see the extensions granted until 2059.

He said he believes there is still plenty of time left to ensure that, whatever course of action is taken, all measures are carried out in full compliance with the appropriate laws on joint ventures.

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