Thailand’s top court rules in favour of MRT authority in lawsuit over MRTA Orange Line bidding

Construction News

Thailand’s top court rules in favour of MRT authority in lawsuit over MRTA Orange Line bidding

BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network): The Supreme Administrative Court on Wednesday (March 1) cleared the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) of any wrongdoing in a lawsuit filed by the Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTSC) over bidding for the Orange Line.

The court upheld the verdict of the Central Administrative Court acquitting the MRTA and its bid winner selection committee.

The BTSC’s lawsuit had accused them of unlawfully changing the terms of reference (TOR) in inviting bids for construction of the western section of the Orange Line and the operation of the entire route.

BTSC, the operator of the BTS Skytrain, alleged in the lawsuit that the selection committee formed under the Public Private Partnership Act and the MRTA unlawfully changed the TOR, and thus caused damage to the BTSC.

The Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the MRTA and the selection committee were empowered by the PPP Act to change the TOR for bidding.

The court agreed with the argument of the MRTA that the TOR needed to be changed because the construction of the western section was complicated as there would be a section of subway.

Because more complicated construction techniques were required, the MRTA and its selection panel decided to change the TOR to attach more importance to technical data proposed by bidders, the court said in its ruling.

The court said the changes to the TOR affected just three out of 100 reference scores, as the changes were made only to the second envelope concerning technical data of bidders.

Ruling on the BTSC’s allegations that the change of TOR might have been influenced by a certain bidder or made to help a certain bidder, the court said that the selection committee had allowed all bidders to propose opinions for drafting the new TOR before the new TOR was announced.

The court pointed out the fact that the selection committee did not consider the proposals of the BTSC did not prove that the panel had sided with any bidder.

The Supreme Court said the selection committee and the MRTA were also open to bidding by joint ventures, so it did not mean the change of the TOR was made to help any firm in particular.

The court also noted that the selection panel and the MRTA gave the initial bidders 45 days to amend their second envelope before the second round of bidding. The BTSC had plenty of time and it should not have been affected by the change of the TOR, the judges said.

The Orange Line project will run 35.9km from Minburi in eastern Bangkok to Bang Khunon in the west.

The eastern section from the Thailand Cultural Centre to Minburi is under construction and will extend to 22.5km with 17 stations, 10 of them underground.

The western section from the Thailand Cultural Centre to Bang Khunon will run for 13.4km with 11 underground stations.

The MRTA cancelled the first bid process on February 3 last year, as it wanted to change the bid criteria in order to prioritise technical data. Bids had already been submitted by Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc (BEM), and a consortium of BTSC, Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction and Ratch Group.

The second bid process was held on July 27 with two participants – the BEM and Italian-Thai Development Group. BEM won the contract by meeting technical requirements and offering the lowest price.

Kosit Prasitvejroj, BTSC’s lawyer, said that although this case was finalised by the Supreme Administrative Court, the BTSC has filed two other lawsuits with the Central Administrative Court over the bidding of the Orange Line project. He said those two cases were different, so the rulings could be different.

In another lawsuit, the MRTA was acquitted by the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases in September last year of unlawfully cancelling the first bidding process of the Orange Line’s western section.