Section 44 of the interim charter could be invoked by the prime minister to expedite six double-track rail projects, Deputy Transport Minister Ormsin Chivapruck says.
In a radio interview yesterday, Mr Ormsin said the six projects need a shot in the arm to speed them up and Section 44 could provide the catalyst.
The section gives the premier full power to sidestep bureaucracy.
Under the National Council for Peace and Order’s plan, six double-track rail networks covering a combined 903km worth 129.30 billion baht will be built by 2018: the Chachoengsao-Kaeng Koi (106km, 11.27 billion baht) link; Jira in Nakhon Ratchasima to Khon Kaen (185km, 26 billion baht); Prachuap Khiri Khan to Chumphon (167km, 17.29 billion baht); Nakhon Pathom to Hua Hin (165km, 20 billion baht); Map Ka Bao in Saraburi to Jira in Nakhon Ratchasima (132km, 29.85 billion baht); and Lop Buri to Pak Nam Pho in Nakhon Sawan (148km, 24.84 billion baht).
Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak insisted it was necessary to speed up the megaprojects, including the dual-track rail construction.
Mr Somkid, head of the government’s economic team, said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told him he could ask to invoke Section 44 if it would get some megaprojects going faster.
Mr Ormsin said yesterday three of the six double-track projects have now passed environmental impact assessments.
The deputy transport minister said it was possible Section 44 could be applied to enable the bidding for the projects to go ahead before contracts for them are signed.
He added certain aspects of the high-speed train projects could also come under Section 44 which would be handy for removing the legal and procedural obstacles to their progress.
The Transport Ministry might need to act fast to use Section 44, though the details of what specific sections, and for which projects, will be subject to the special law will need to be discussed with Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith when he returns from China, he said.
Mr Omsin said he expected to meet Mr Arkhom for the discussion next week.
Apart from the six networks, the government also plans to develop the second phase of double-track projects covering eight routes running on a combined 1,626km of tracks from Hua Hin to Prachuap Khiri Khan (90km), Pak Nam Pho in Nakhon Sawan and Den Chai in Phrae (285km), Jira in Nakhon Ratchasima to Ubon Ratchathani (309km), Khon Kaen-Nong Khai (174km), Chumphon-Surat Thani (167km), Surat Thani-Songkhla (339km), Hat Yai-Padang Besar (45 km) and Den Chai-Chiang Mai (217 km).
China also plans to play a major role in the development of 867km of tracks for three of the sections.