Tambon freezes plan to buy more controversial street lights

Tambon freezes plan to buy more controversial street lights

Lamp posts decorated with kinnaree figures and powered by solar energy are installed close to one another on this and other roads in tambon Racha Thewa in Bang Phli district of Samut Prakan. (Photo by Sutthiwit Chayutworakan)
Lamp posts decorated with kinnaree figures and powered by solar energy are installed close to one another on this and other roads in tambon Racha Thewa in Bang Phli district of Samut Prakan. (Photo by Sutthiwit Chayutworakan)

The Tambon Administration Organisation (TAO) in Racha Thewa on Wednesday decided to defer a plan to buy more controversial solar-powered street lamps until the project is cleared by state investigations.

One day after the local council voted overwhelmingly to go ahead with the purchase of more lamps, the TAO announced it would temporarily suspend the plan to wait for the probes.

"If the probes find no wrongdoing, the project will continue," TAO chairman Songchai Nokkhamin said.

The State Audit Office, National Anti-Corruption Commission, Anti-Money Laundering Office and Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission are looking into the issue, according to the chairman.

Tambon Racha Thewa is in Bang Phli district of Samut Prakan.

The TAO in Racha Thewa was accused of buying unnecessary street lamps with overpriced tags and from one company. The street lamps are decorated with mythical kinnaree figures on top.

The exact numbers of the installed lamps are unclear. The Isra news agency reported two weeks ago that there were 6,773 of them, while other sources said the numbers were higher.

The price of each street light was around the same at 95,000 baht.

A closer look at one of the controversial lams. (Photo by Sutthiwit Chayutworakan)

The council meeting on Tuesday approved the purchase of another 720 lamps for 68 million baht.

Critics took to social media including Facebook and Twitter lambasting the TAO for continuing to buy unnecessary and overpriced lamps when the country is grappling with the Covid-19 crisis.

But Mr Songchai insisted on Wednesday the project served local needs.

He said earlier that the extravagant lamps would draw tourists to tambon Racha Thewa and the tambon was the face of the nation as it was the location of Suvarnabhumi airport.

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