Clear up city condo mess
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Clear up city condo mess

The Supreme Administrative Court ruling on Ashton Asoke, an upscale high-rise condominium, has sent shockwaves among Bangkok project developers.

The ruling last Thursday invalidated the construction permit granted to the already finished 6-billion-baht Ashton Asoke condominium project in Bangkok's Watthana district after a long legal dispute.

It had a ripple effect among those behind real estate properties built in a similar manner. It is reported that more than five condominium buildings are facing similar problems over their questionable access to public roads.

Thailand's Building Control Act requires developers of high-rise buildings to ensure wide enough access to public roads that is commensurate with the size of the project -- larger projects need wider road access to main public roads. For the Ashton Asoke project, it was the width of the main entrance's access to Asok Montri Road that failed to comply with the law.

While it is the responsibility of the developer to take care of consumers, it was the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) that were involved in issuing the permits and who must clear the air in this regard. So far, both agencies have played idle bystander roles.

The MRTA -- which let the commercial developer used public land expropriated for developing public infrastructure to build a wider road access for the 50-storey building -- insisted it did nothing wrong.

"The Supreme Administrative Court did not revoke MRTA's legal papers. The verdict only nullified Ashton Asoke's permits," MRTA governor, Pakapong Sirikantaramas, was quoted telling a TV news channel. "Now it is the developer's duty to deal with the BMA."

This answer is far from good enough. The MRTA needs to explain why it let private bodies use public land. The court ruling is crystal clear -- the MRTA's expropriated land is designed for public use, not private sector use.

The response from the BMA has not led to any meaningful solutions either. Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt only said the ruling does not require the building to be demolished and gave an initial 30 days for Ananda Development Plc to reapply for a permit.

That means the developer needs to find an additional land plot in the Asok area within 120 days. The governor did not spell out what the BMA is going to do if the developer fails to obtain that much-needed plot. The developer has been in conflict with landowners in the neighbourhood -- that is why the lawsuit was initiated -- right from the start.

Mr Chadchart reportedly linked "the confusion surrounding the regulations in the approval process" to the actions of BMA officials in the previous governor's administration. Such a response is insufficient.

Instead of shifting blame to the prior administration, Mr Chadchart should seize the opportunity to clean up the controversial construction approval process by the BMA.

The governor should simply follow the recommendation made by whistle-blower Srisuwan Janya -- one of the plaintiffs in this case who suggested the BMA launch an investigation into the officials who were involved in granting permits for the Ashton Asoke project.

Bangkok governor Chadchart still has time to make the BMA construction permit approval process more transparent by launching a probe to find out whether BMA officials complied with the law.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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