Thai Court finds terms of reference (ToR) change on MRTA Orange Line project was ‘justified’

Construction News
Construction work proceeds on the MRT Orange Line. (File photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Thai Court finds terms of reference (ToR) change on MRTA Orange Line project was ‘justified’

MRTA sued by BTSC over Orange Line

The Central Administrative Court has ruled in favour of the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) in a case brought against it by Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC).

The case was regarding the MRTA’s decision on May 24 last year to change the terms of reference (ToR) of bidding for the right to invest in the Orange Line project, a source said on Tuesday.

The BTSC had accused the MRTA committee tasked with selecting a private partner to co-invest in the construction of the Orange Line’s extension between Bang Khun Non-Min Buri of unfairly changing the ToR with the intent of helping a certain bidder win.

The court, however, ruled on Tuesday the MRTA had strictly followed the law on public-private partnership investment and all changes made to the ToR were justifiable, said a source at the court.

The committee allowed 60 days for a public hearing to be conducted on the changes announced on May 24 last year, as required under the 2019 Public-Private Partnership Investment Act, said the source, citing the court’s ruling.

And the fact that BTSC asked MRTA in a letter to extend the bid submission deadline as it needed more time to find a foreign partner to meet the new ToR clearly showed BTSC understood and accepted the new ToR and intended to take part in the new round of bidding, said the source.

The amended ToR required bidders to have previous experience in completing a state construction project.

This requirement is justified as the MRTA has to ensure the winner has the technical capacity and sufficient experience to complete the construction of the Orange Line’s new section, which involves digging a tunnel underneath important areas, said the ruling.

The requirement is also in line with a regulation issued by the Comptroller General’s Department, which is aimed at ensuring confidence in construction projects carried out by government agencies, according to the ruling.

As for BTSC’s claim that the bidding might not be fair as the MRTA owns 8.22% of shares in Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc (BEM), which ultimately won the contract, the court found that the MRTA is actually required to hold some shares in BEM, as outlined by a 2000 cabinet resolution.