S44 invoked for Thai-Chinese railway

S44 invoked for Thai-Chinese railway

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has invoked Section 44 to expedite the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway line between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima and enable work to begin this year.

The National Council for Peace and Order's decree No.30/2017 aims to clear technical and legal problems for the delayed 252-kilometre railway. It was published in the Royal Gazette on Thursday.

The order instructs the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) to hire a Chinese state enterprise to supervise the construction of the Thai-Chinese railway. 

The company must be certified by China’s National Development and Reform Commission.

The firm will oversee the design of the railway infrastructure as well as rail and electrical systems. It will serve as an adviser for the project’s construction and provide training in system-related knowledge for the project staff.

The Transport Ministry (MOT) is required to work with the Chinese company, the Council of Engineers and the Architects Council of Thailand in providing the training and knowledge test relating to the project.

The order stipulates the SRT must draft a contract detailing the project's cost and other conditions based on earlier cabinet resolutions and meetings of the Thai-Chinese railway committee.

The contract must be ready within 120 days. If it is not, the SRT is required to explain why to the MOT. The issue would then go to the cabinet which would consider whether the project's timeframe should be extended or not.

Speaking after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Gen Prayut confirmed he would exercise Section 44 to ensure the rail project moves ahead.

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith earlier said the ministry reported problems with delays in the first phase of the route, and asked for a Section 44 solution from Gen Prayut.

He said Thailand and China would then be able to sign an agreement for the design contract for the first section by July.

The Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima route is part of a planned railway to link Bangkok and Nong Khai, which borders Laos, 354km beyond Nakhon Ratchasima.  

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