SATUN: The provincial National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) office on Friday sent a team to inspect the construction site of a new visitor centre in Kuan Don district after receiving reports of corruption.
The inspection team led by the NACC provincial office director-general Thanakrit Lertwiriyangkoon attended the inspection in person after allegations regarding the 29.7-million-baht construction project were posted on the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand's (ACT) Watchdog Facebook page on Tuesday.
The post said that the project had started in 2016 after Satun Provincial Administrative Organisation (PAO) signed a special procurement contract with Kiat Charoenchai Civil Works Partnership Limited (Prt Ltd) to build the centre, to be located near Highway No. 406 in Kuan Don district.
It was said that Kiat Charoenchai Civil Works is actually owned by one of the brothers of a PAO administrative figure.
Despite an original completion target of Dec 22, 2017, specified in the contract, the project remains unfinished more than six years after the original contract was signed.
Kiat Charoenchai Civil Works also signed contracts for related projects worth 12.99 million baht, the post said.
National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC)'s Satun office director-general Thanakrit Lertwiriyangkoon, centre, leads a team of anti-graft officials to inspect the construction site of a new visitor centre in Kuan Don district of this southern province on Friday after receiving reports of corruption. (Photo: Satun public relations office)
The inspectors reported that they found no signs of progress regarding the construction and a site littered with broken tiles, unfinished toilets, and broken doors. A small number of electricians appeared to be working on the site.
Mr Thanakrit said that the NACC office had requested Satun PAO submit a fresh construction plan, although a final decision about the veracity of the corruption accusations could not be made without further investigation.
On Monday, just a day before the Facebook post, Samrit Siangprasit, chief executive of the PAO, had given a briefing in which he said the construction was ongoing, with the main building 78.9% complete so far.
According to Mr Samrit, despite going considerably over budget, two out of the three phases, including the Geopark Gateway, were ongoing, with the gateway already partially open.
Meanwhile, two contracts regarding the project, both issued in 2019, are being publicised, which the PAO claims prove it had limited the budget to 12.99 million baht with no additional cost, even though the Geopark Gateway was added and the issue regarding the public road was raised.