Shady street lamp deal probed

Shady street lamp deal probed

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has launched an investigation into alleged irregularities involving lamp post procurements by several local officials in Samut Prakan.

Niwatchai Kasemmongkol, NACC deputy secretary-general and spokesman, said the anti-graft body met on Thursday to look at the findings into allegations that some executives of the Racha Thewa tambon administration organisation (TAO) in Samut Prakan were involved in irregularities in the procurement of solar-powered street lamps topped with mythical kinnaree figures.

It was found that the TAO launched projects to procure street lamps in fiscal years 2013, 2014, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

However, the procurement procedures did not follow the Interior Ministry's regulations governing local administration budgets, Mr Niwatchai said.

Moreover, the procurement projects also favoured certain companies and the construction was not in line with the required standards, he added.

In light of this, the NACC decided to set up five inquiry panels to look into the case with each panel to handle the projects undertaken in each fiscal year, Mr Niwatchai said, adding that they have 180 days to wrap up their respective probes.

There are more than 20 suspects implicated in the case, including a former Samut Prakan governor, the chief of the Racha Thewa TAO, some local officials and a private company.

The NACC also instructed its provincial branches to look into complaints against similar street lamp procurement projects in other provinces, Mr Niwatchai said.

The Isra news agency and the "Must Share'' Facebook page previously exposed the alleged irregularities in the purchases.

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 642.65 million baht.

Only one company was involved in the contracts, it has been alleged.



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