MFP urges govt to rethink Orange Line
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MFP urges govt to rethink Orange Line

The Move Forward Party (MFP) has appealed to the attorney-general to review the mega-contract for the Orange Line's western expansion before it gains cabinet approval, as many fear unfair bidding could cost the government 68 billion baht in losses.

MFP MP Surachet Pravinvongvuth, as president of the House sub-committee on large-scale infrastructure projects, said the attorney-general should review the joint investment by the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) and whether the bidding conditions were legitimate.

"If the MRTA passes on the proposal to the Transport Ministry, the transport minister will present the deal to the cabinet and the approval will cost an unnecessary amount of subsidy worth 68 billion baht for the Orange Line construction," said Mr Surachet.

The House sub-committee requested the MRTA clarify the seemingly unfair conditions for bidders of this project twice but the MRTA failed to respond, he said.

The sub-committee agreed the MRTA cancelled the first round of bidding because it decided to change the conditions to award the concession to Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc (BEM) in the second round.

According to the Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand (ACT), if the first round was not cancelled, the Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC) would have won the concession. With this bidder, the government would have been required to pay 9.67 billion baht to subsidise the project.

However, with BEM, the government will have to pay subsidies of up to 78.28 billion baht, or 68.6 billion baht more.

Mr Surachet said the MFP is preparing to file an appeal with the Administrative Court of Thailand to look into the matter.

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said on Thursday the proposal for the government subsidy for the Orange Line expansion project would have to follow the Public-Private Partnership Act. Moreover, the MRTA has not proposed the draft to the Transport Ministry.

"Personally, I would like the project to proceed as soon as possible. However, the judgement by the Administrative Court of Thailand should be finalised before any procedure takes place. Otherwise, there will be more problems coming up," said Mr Saksayam.

He added that if the MRTA and its contract are deemed legal by the court, as the transport minister, he would have to propose the project for the cabinet's approval.

The western expansion of the Orange Line will run from Bang Khun Non in the Thon Buri area to the Thailand Cultural Centre station and link the eastern section, still under construction, to Min Buri.

Construction will cost 120 billion baht. BEM, which won the bidding, requested a 78-billion-baht subsidy from the government.

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