Orange Line extensions 'on hold' due to legal issues
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Orange Line extensions 'on hold' due to legal issues

Atirat: Awaits court rulings
Atirat: Awaits court rulings

The Orange Line's western section will likely remain on hold until all the legal disputes involving the project are settled, Deputy Transport Minister Atirat Ratanasate said on Thursday.

Speaking after meeting with heads of transport agencies for an update, Mr Atirat said he had instructed Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA) of Thailand governor Pakapong Sirikantaramas to follow the law strictly.

Mr Atirat, who assumes the role of acting transport minister while Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob is suspended from duty, said the MRTA must thoroughly examine the details of the three pending lawsuits before proceeding.

"The Orange Line's western section can't proceed if some issues aren't cleared up. There are also lawsuits pending, and we must consider the details," he said. "Even though the MRTA has clarified the alleged irregularities surrounding the project, we're not sure if we must wait for court decisions."

He stressed that despite the MRTA's clarification, if the public still has doubts, it is best for the agency and the ministry to await the court rulings.

Mr Atirat said he also ordered all agencies to review and prioritise their projects for the cabinet's consideration, adding he will submit them for approval if they are in compliance with the law.

"It's election time, so there is pressure, but if I can clear up any doubts for the people, I'm willing to. I want to give them the answers they want," he said.

Meanwhile, a source at the MRTA said there are five lawsuits involving the Orange Line's western section. Three involve the first round of bidding, which was scrapped by the MRTA, the source said.

The two others deal with the second round in which Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc (BEM) recently won the bid to jointly invest with the government, the source added.

Responding to former massage parlour tycoon Chuvit Kamolvisit's call for action over alleged irregularities at the ministry, Mr Atirat said he would set up a fact-finding committee to look into the claims.

Mr Chuvit submitted a four-point demand on Tuesday, calling for an investigation into a construction firm he claimed was owned by Mr Saksayam, which might have been involved in price collusion in bidding for transport projects.

Mr Chuvit also demanded legal action against State Railway of Thailand governor Nirut Maneephan in connection with alleged land encroachment in Buri Ram's Khao Kradong area and a probe into the conduct of Suksomruay Wantaneeyakul, the transport minister's secretary.

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