MRTA offers to take over Green Line

MRTA offers to take over Green Line

Govt must first compensate BTSC

The Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA) is ready to take over the management of the BTS skytrain Green Line's extension from City Hall if the government agrees to compensate the private company contracted to operate the line for its work.

MRTA governor Pakapong Sirikantaramas said a cabinet resolution previously transferred the ownership of the extension from the MRTA to City Hall.

The Green Line extension covers routes from Bearing to Kheha stations and from Mo Chit to Khu Khot stations.

"If the government has a policy for the MRTA to take back the Green Line from City Hall, the MRTA is ready to comply," Mr Pakapong said.

However, the government must shoulder City Hall's debt to the operator, the Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC), which invested in the installation of mechanical and costs maintenance systems, he said.

That debt stands at about 37 billion baht. Of the amount, about 17 billion baht is for operation and maintenance costs and some 20 billion is for the installation of electrical and mechanical systems, the source said.

The BTSC is suing City Hall to force it to service the overdue debt.

Moreover, Mr Pakapong said the MRTA is transferring another payment to City Hall over the Green Line extension, referring to its own debt with the BTSC incurred while operating the line.

"Handling the operation once again would be a difficult challenge because the debt transfer process has already gone too far," he said. "But if the MRTA is to take over, the government must find ways to shoulder the debt."

On Friday, Mr Pakapong attended a meeting between the MRTA, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and the Transport Ministry to discuss the debt.

Afterwards, he said the MRTA hopes to sign an agreement by Sept 30 to transfer the debt from the Green Line extension to City Hall, if the cabinet approves the plan.

The MRTA carried out construction of the two sections before the cabinet in 2018 agreed to transfer the ownership and the financial responsibility to the BMA.

The rationale was that the original section of the Green Line is owned by the BMA and operated by the BTSC.

However, the MRTA still owes BTSC 53.32 billion baht for the civil engineering work the company did on the two extensions.

That figure includes interest, and the total sum will reach 54.28 billion baht by the end of September, Mr Pakapong said.

"The debt also includes land expropriation costs and consultation fees.

"If City Hall signs the debt transfer agreement, it must pay the debt to the Budget Bureau. Any further delay means higher debt interest," Mr Pakapong said.

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