This bird’s-eye of the 12-billion-baht parliament building complex project shows clearly why it will not have its grand opening Tuesday as scheduled. Sino-Thai Engineering & Construction Plc blames problems with land transfers and soil removal at the site, in the Kiakkai area on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. (Photo by Krit Promsaka Na Sakolnakorn)
An agreement has been signed to extend the new parliament complex construction deadline by 387 days.
Construction on the 12-billion-baht complex in the Kiakkai area of Bangkok was supposed to finish Tuesday but is way behind schedule and only about 15% complete.
The delays have been blamed on the slow pace of land transfers to the contractor and soil removal.
Saithip Chawalitthawil, the new House of Representatives secretary-general, signed on Monday an agreement with Sino-Thai Engineering & Construction Plc to extend the construction deadline by another 387 days.
Chotejutha Artsorn, an executive of a group of consultants working on the project, said there were two main reasons for the construction delay that made a deadline extension necessary.
First, Yothin Burana School has not yet transferred ownership of required land, but is expected to do so early next year when demolition of the school begins, Mr Chotejutha said.
Another problem involved the removal of soil to make way for the construction and this has halted the work. However, a company recently bought the soil and was expected to remove it from the site within 20 days, Mr Chotejutha said. He said work on the complex was now about 15% complete, and if there are no further delays, the new parliament building should be completed in early 2017.
Former Democrat Party MP Wilas Chantharapitak said the delay meant Sino-Thai was in a position to sue the secretariat of the House of Representatives, which is a party to the construction contract, for damages.
Mr Wilas said parliament had appointed a new contract review committee to replace the old panel, which gave the contractor an extension of only 287 days while the company had asked for 487 days. The old panel comprised engineers, architects and prosecutors, but members of the new panel, who are mostly parliament officials, and pushed for another 100 days to be added to the deal, taking the total to 387 days, Mr Wilas said.
National Legislative Assembly president Pornpetch Wichitcholachai, however, insisted no one would sue for damages since both parties to the contract had agreed to extend it. Responding to an allegation by Mr Wilas that he appeared to be siding with the contractor in the deadline talks, Mr Pornpetch said he had no authority to give any instructions regarding construction. He was duty-bound to protect the country’s interests and had always worked impartially as a judge.
Mr Pornpetch insisted he did not know the details behind the delay and the extension of the contract.
Early last month, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in his capacity as National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), signed an order transferring Charae Panpruang, secretary-general of the House, to the Prime Minister’s Office. The move was a result of NCPO frustration at the lack of progress in the project.