An artist's impression of the high-speed train for the track to be built by the Charoen Pokphand consortium connecting Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and U-tapao airports. (Photo from Charoen Pokphand Group)
The signing of the 224-billion-baht contract between the State Railway of Thailand and Charoen Pokphand Group (CP) for the rail link between three international airports has run into another delay following the resignation of the entire SRT board.
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said on Tuesday that the Transport Ministry had decided to defer the signing of the contract from Oct 15 to Oct 25 after the SRT board members all stepped down last Tuesday.
The ministry needs a new SRT board in place first to avoid the possibility of the contract being invalidated if the agreement is inked in its absence, he said.
The SRT is impatient for the consortium to sign the contract for construction of the high-speed train linking Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and U-Tapao airports, after repeated delays.
The CP consortium won the project with a 224-billion-baht bid in December last year. The government had threatened to blacklist the group if it failed to meet the Oct 15 deadline.
The delays are due to concerns by the bid winners over land expropriation and eviction problems.
The consortium's latest move was a request for the government to share the risk in the project. The ministry and SRT denied there was a land issue, and refused to enter into risk-sharing.
The resignation of the SRT board is common after a change in government, and is regarded as a matter of etiquette. However, on this occasion, the resignations came as a surprise because the board members who convened the last meeting on Sept 27 gave no indication that they would all resign just four days later.
"We have to strictly follow legal procedures. If there is no SRT board, we cannot forward a signed contract to the cabinet," said Mr Saksayam, although he added he was confident a board would be formed by Oct 25.
Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala, a former deputy governor of the central bank and former finance minister, accused the government of "deceiving people" by using the high-speed rail project to divert national budget into the pockets of certain business groups.
The government, he said, should have invested in a double-track system connecting the three airports, which would cost 50 billion baht, a third of the cost of the high-speed project.
Learn from listening
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absence (noun): the fact of somebody/something not existing or not being available; a lack of something - การขาด
bid : an offer to buy or provide something at a specific price - ยื่นเสนอราคา
blacklist (verb): to put the name of a person, a company, a product or a country on a blacklist (a list of the names of people, companies, products or countries that an organization or a government considers unacceptable and that must be avoided) - ใส่ในบัญชีรายชื่อของคนที่ทำไม่ดี
consortium : an organization of several businesses or banks joining together as a group for a shared purpose - สมาคม,สหภาพ,ห้างหุ้นส่วน,สมาคมนายธนาคาร
convene : to gather for a meeting - มาชุมนุมกัน
deadline : a time or day by which something must be done - เส้นตาย
defer : to arrange for something to happen at a later time - ยืดเวลา เลื่อนออกไป
divert : to use something for a different purpose -
etiquette : a set of rules about behaviour for people in a particular profession - มารยาท, ธรรมเนียมปฏิบัติ
eviction : the process of forcing someone to leave a building or place where they have been living or working - การขับไล่ออกจากพื้นที่ การไล่ที่
expropriation (noun): the taking of land from people to use for something else - การเวนคืน
indication : a sign that something happened, is true or exists - เครื่องบ่งชี้
ink : to sign a document, especially a contract - เซ็น(สัญญา)
invalidate : to make something no longer legally effective -
procedure : a way of doing something - ขั้นตอนการดำเนินการ
resign : to leave a job permanently - ลาออกจากตำแหน่ง
step down : resign or leave from a high position or job - ลาออก, ลาออกจากตำแหน่ง