The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s (BMA) debt to Bangkok Mass Transit System Company (BTSC), for the engineering and maintenance (E&M) and operating and maintenance (O&M) costs for the first and second extensions of the Green Line sky train service, has now ballooned to about 98 billion baht, according to a study commissioned by the city council.
This figure does not cover bank interest, said the study.
The first extension of the Green Line is from Taksin station to Bang Wa station and from On Nut station to Bearing station, while the second extension is from Bearing station to Keha station in Samut Prakan and from Mor Chit station to Khu Khot station in Pathum Thani province.
Napaphol Jirakul, a member of the city council and head of the committee tasked with studying the Green Line train project, said that the BMA also owes the Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA), a subsidiary of the Interior Ministry, for the second extension infrastructure construction, which was transferred to the BMA in 2019, under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the BMA and the MRTA.
Napaphol said the BMA started paying the MRT in 2019 for the extension between Bearing and Keha, after it managed to secure a loan from the Finance Ministry, but it is yet to pay for the extension between Mor Chit and Khu Khot.
BTSC has sued the BMA and its wholly-owned subsidiary Krungthep Thanakom in the Central Administrative Court, demanding debt servicing plus interest. The BMA and Krungthep Thanakom were ordered by the court to pay BTSC, but both appealed the verdict to the Supreme Administrative Court.
To resolve the debt issue with BTSC, the city council has recommended that the BMA sign a new deal with BTSC, splitting the E&M and O&M costs into separate contracts. If this is not accepted by BTSC, the BMA should return the Green Line project to the government.
Responding to the council’s recommendation, Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt said that the city’s administration will have to study the proposal, adding that he sees a potential to seek the council’s approval for a budget to repay some of the debt.
The debt issue between BMA and BTSC remains a major stumbling block for the government delivering on its election promise to cut the train fares on the Green Line to 20 baht.