Chadchart looks into ‘unusual’ gym equipment buys
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Chadchart looks into ‘unusual’ gym equipment buys

Bangkok governor vows quick answers about procurement of B750,000 treadmill and other pricey gear

People use sports equipment at Wachirabenchathat park in Chatuchak district of Bangkok on Thursday. (Photo: Pornprom Satrabhaya)
People use sports equipment at Wachirabenchathat park in Chatuchak district of Bangkok on Thursday. (Photo: Pornprom Satrabhaya)

Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt has admitted to finding unusual patterns in gym equipment procurement — such as a treadmill that cost as much as a car — for two sports centres operated by City Hall.

Mr Chadchart was responding on Thursday to growing public suspicion about the procurement for the sports centres at Waree Phirom Park in Khlong Sam Wa district and Wachirabenchathat Park (aka Suan Rod Fai) in Chatuchak district.

The governor vowed to step up the investigation and take legal action if any officials were found to be involved in wrongdoing. He also said City Hall would take responsibility for being transparent administratively.

“I insist on being transparent,” he said at a press conference called by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA).

The issue arose when the Strong Thailand Anti-Corruption Club posted about it on Facebook on Tuesday. It said the BMA spent about 10 million baht to procure 22 pieces of gym equipment for the two sports centres. The prices of some items were dramatically higher than the usual market price, such as an electric treadmill at a cost of 759,000 baht and a spinning bike at 484,000 baht.

The group said it had found more abnormal procurements at another seven sports centres for a total cost of 103.2 million baht.

In response, Mr Chadchart said the BMA was working together with the State Audit Office (SAO) on its investigation while conducting an internal probe led by its anti-corruption committee.

He said the BMA had long taken measures to prevent corruption in terms of procurement. Any desired goods and services must first be approved by the Bangkok Metropolitan Council which has 50 members. Every purchase must have a stated median price and can be checked by the public via an online platform of the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand at its website.

The governor said the BMA would speed up the investigation to regain public trust.

Somboon Homnan, the deputy permanent secretary of the BMA, said procurements are conducted through e-bidding. In the case of the gym equipment, he said the BMA had conducted surveys to find average prices with three sports equipment distributors, as required by the law.

Sanon Wangsrangboon, a deputy governor, said the contractor who provided the gym equipment to the BMA had worked with City Hall since March 2022 or dating back to the time of its former governor, Pol Gen Aswin Kwanmuang.

He said that based on the information from the website, a treadmill at that time was priced at about 600,000 baht.

The procurement deal was signed in 2022, or before the present administration took office in June of that year.

However, neither the procurement nor its process was associated with the former governor, he said, adding that the BMA would work closely with the SAO to provide it with information.

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