The State Railway of Thailand will press on with construction of the Bang Sue-Taling Chan elevated railway line despite a court ruling against it.
The Central Administrative Court ruled that the SRT unlawfully awarded a contract to the Unique-Chun Wo joint venture in 2008 to undertake the project.
The court ruled last Tuesday that the SRT board, chaired by then permanent secretary for transportation Chaisawat Kittipornpaiboon, broke a bidding regulation of the Office of the Prime Minister by awarding the contract to a lone bidder.
The 2006 regulation stipulates a state agency must call off any bidding round in which only one contender emerges to offer a price.
The SRT board approved the selection of Unique-Chun Wo joint venture, which bid for the red line project with a price of 8.7 billion baht, only 1,000 baht below the median price.
Rival contender STCC joint venture, which was disqualified by a bidding committee due to its failure to meet some requirements in the terms of reference, objected to the board’s decision.
It lodged a complaint with the court against the bidding process.
SRT executives said they would appeal against the court’s decision. They argue that such a regulation can be relaxed in certain cases and the SRT needs to press on with construction of the 15km route, which is more than half complete.
Permanent secretary for transport Supoj Saplom said that even if the case went to the Supreme Administrative Court and that body ruled against the SRT, “the project must go on due to the contract between the SRT and the companies”.
He insisted the bidding was carried out legally, and there was only one qualified bidder.
He cited a cabinet resolution on Oct 16, 2007 that allows PM’s Office regulations to be relaxed in certain cases.
Mr Supoj said the SRT had to award the contract to the Unique-Chun Wo joint venture as the authority had locked in on the price of construction materials in 2008.
Renegotiating a contract now would mean paying for construction materials at today’s rates, which would add substantially to the project’s overall cost.
“The PM’s Office’s regulations are put in place by cabinet resolutions, so they can be amended by cabinet resolutions as well,” said Mr Supoj, also the SRT board chairman.
Anant Swaengtong, a legal expert from the STCC joint venture, said he would hold talks with representatives of four companies under its umbrella on how to fight the SRT’s case before the court.
He said the group is also preparing to file a lawsuit against the SRT for damages to the companies.
Meanwhile, Unique Engineering and Construction Plc managing director Kornpat Suwiwatthanachai said her company, which formed the Unique-Chun Wo joint venture, was not a party to the legal dispute and the group has correctly followed its contract with the SRT.