TAO's solar lamps spend under fire

TAO's solar lamps spend under fire

A mythical kinnaree seen on top of a solar-cell lamp post in tambon Racha Thewa, Samut Prakan. (Photo: Sutthiwit Chayutworakan)
A mythical kinnaree seen on top of a solar-cell lamp post in tambon Racha Thewa, Samut Prakan. (Photo: Sutthiwit Chayutworakan)

SAMUT PRAKAN: A local administrative organisation has been accused of overpaying for more than 6,000 solar-powered street lamps topped with mythical kinnaree figures.

Critics say the Racha Thewa tambon administration organisation spent more than 642 million baht installing 6,773 lampposts, and only one company was involved.

TAO chairman Songchai Nokkhamin, who came out to defend the solar-cell project yesterday, insists the project is above board.

All procedures were properly followed in the bidding, purchase and installation of the lights in his tambon, he said.

Three panels oversaw the project. One was responsible for setting terms of reference and price of the poles and the locations to install them. A second panel had called for tenders for the job. The third inspected them, Mr Songchai said.

He had all necessary documents to show the National Anti-Corruption Commission, he said.

He claimed attempts were being made to discredit TAO Racha Thewa executives.

"It's easy to claim it's a waste of money and ask why there is only one firm doing it. They must come see the documents,'' said Mr Songchai.

The Isara news Agency and "Must Share'' Facebook page recently exposed the alleged irregularities in the purchase of the solar-cell poles topped with kinnaree, a half-man half-bird creature. They questioned the spending on the poles.

According to the Facebook page, which campaigns against corruption, between 2019 and 2021 the Racha Thewa TAO overspent on seven contracts for 6,773 poles at an average price of 94,884 baht each, for a total cost of about 642,650,000 baht.

The poles are topped with decorative kinnaree and line the streets in many areas in the tambon. They were installed by Bangkok Road Lighting Co.

The page asked for state agencies to examine the projects, saying a huge budget was involved and many lampposts installed.

Another local government organisation in Samut Prakan was earlier accused of over-paying for solar-powered light poles with a plane on top.

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