Chao Phraya promenade hits hurdle

Construction News

Construction of the 14-billion-baht Chao Phraya promenade faces lengthy delays after efforts to conduct a feasibility study tripped at the first hurdle.

Two of the three contractors that had expressed interest in bidding for the rights to the feasibility study have withdrawn from the race before it even started, said Pinit Lertudomtana, deputy chief of the BMA’s Department of Public Works.

Mr Pinit said only one consortium, made up of Panya Consultants Co, Epsilon Co and Transconsult Co, had submitted a formal tender.

The other two — Fusion Consultant Co and a consortium consisting of Consultants of Technology Co, Consultant of Architecture Co and COU Co — will not take part in the bid.

Fusion Consultant Co did not meet the qualifications to compete in the bid, while the other consortium failed to submit a proposal, said Mr Pinit, who is also a chairman of the panel responsible for awarding the contract.

As only one tender has been submitted, the panel will be forced to propose the cancellation of the bid to BMA executives.

The law stipulates that more than one candidate is required to ensure fair competition.

It will now be up to the BMA executives to make a decision on how to proceed with the project, Mr Pinit said.

The delay follows heavy criticism from activists and academics who say the 7km riverside promenade will damage the environment, the livelihoods of local communities and the diversity of the riverside cultural landscape.

The project, dubbed the “New Landmark of Thailand”, will stretch on both sides of the Chao Phraya River, between the Rama VII and Pin Klao bridges.

The winner of the BMA contract would have been awarded 120 million baht to conduct the feasibility study for the promenade and map out a master plan.

Under the seven-month contract, the winner would have been required to study the impact of the project on the environment, city planning and local livelihoods, as well as its effects on the flow of the country’s main river system.

An environmental impact assessment is required before approval for the project can be sought from the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning.

The winner would also have been required to craft the terms of reference for bidding on the contract to build the promenade.

Mr Pinit said if a new round of bidding for the feasibility study is held, the terms of reference may have to be tweaked, particularly the existing provision that says the qualified bidders must be companies registered with the Council of Engineers.

He conceded the provision had faced heavy criticism for excluding architectural firms from taking part.

If BMA executives decide to launch a new request for tender, the provision may have to be erased to open the field to more candidates, Mr Pinit added.

The government called on relevant agencies to speed up their work on the controversial project.

Construction was initially scheduled to begin in January next year but had already been pushed back to June.