New motorway’s cost inflated, says Samart

Construction News

The Lam Luk Ka-Pathum Thani motorway, linking Bangkok’s Outer Ring Road Route 9 to the East, is just the beginning of a new system of motorways the government announced last Tuesday for the Central region around Bangkok. (Photo by Surapol Promsaka Na Sakolnakorn)

The government should look closely at the “inflated” cost of building the new 32 kilometre highway linking Pattaya in Chon Buri and Map Ta Phut in Rayong, former Bangkok deputy governor Samart Ratchapolsitte said on Monday.

Mr Samart expressed his doubts about the Pattaya – Map Ta Phut motorway project, which was approved by the cabinet last Tuesday along with two other motorways, on his Facebook page on Monday morning.

Funding for construction the motorway was approved at 20.2 billion baht, which  is 4.2 billion baht higher than the same project earlier approved by Yingluck Shinawatra government at 16 billion baht, Mr Samart said.

“The government should explain why the construction cost, including land expropriation, of the Pattaya –  Map Ta Phut motorway has risen by 4.2 billion baht, or 26.25%, even though the distance is still the same,” wrote Mr Samart.

Deputy government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd last week said the breakdown of costs for the 32km Pattaya – Map Ta Phut road was 14.2 billion baht for construction and 6 billion baht for expropriation. Construction was expected to start this year and it would open in 2023.

Mr Samart suggested the government review the cost of construction of all three new motorways, approved at a total expenditure of 160.42 billion baht. He said current oil prices were cheaper than during the Yingluck period, so construction material prices should also be cheaper, resulting in reduced costs all round.

The cabinet approved the 196km-Bang Pa In – Nakhon Ratchasima motorway at a cost of 84.6 billion baht and the 96km-Bang Yai – Kanchanaburi route at 55.62 billion baht. Both projects were approved at the same cost as the Yingluck government’s plan.

Mr Samart also said the Bang Pa In – Nakhon Ratchasima motorway would be a major competitor to the medium-speed train linking Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima to be built in cooperation with the Chinese government.

The motorway might draw passengers away from the new train, so the government should think about ways to minimise or offset that loss to the train’s revenue.

Chusak Gaywee, director-general of the Department of Highways, said earlier that terms of reference for the Pattaya – Map Ta Phut route would be announced in August and bidding for contracts would be by electronic auction.