Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra speaks at a forum to defend his decision to extend the Bangkok Mass Transit System’s contract to operate electric train services for the next three decades. CHANAT KATANYU
4/07/2012 at 08:06 AM By Bangkokpost
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) hired Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTS) to run electric trains on the Green Line system legally, the Bangkok governor insists. Those who oppose the deal risk violating the constitution, Sukhumbhand Paribatra told a discussion yesterday. The BMA, which is under the control of the opposition Democrat Party, organised the discussion at City Hall yesterday to counter the ruling Pheu Thai Party's bid to nullify its deal with BTS. MR Sukhumbhand said the BMA had studied laws and regulations before its resolution to hire BTS to run the skytrain on the Green Line, including its two extended routes, over the next three decades. He cited sections 281 and 283 of the constitution, which say the government has to let local administration organisations play a leading role in providing and supervising public services in their areas for the benefit of residents. He also mentioned Section 16 of the Power Decentralisation Act that authorises local administration organisations to provide public services. "Everything serves the intention of the constitution on power decentralisation," he said. "It does not violate any law. It is the opponents of the contract who are trying to violate the constitution." MR Sukhumbhand thanked the Special Investigation Committee, which is looking into the contract, for not rushing into a ruling on the issue. He said he will run in the Bangkok governor election early next year and proceed with the deal with BTS if he is re-elected. Dismissing Pheu Thai's claim that the BMA failed to stage a bidding contest to select the operator of the Green Line railway, MR Sukhumbhand said the city administration did not introduce any concession but hired BTS to operate the railway system. He claimed the government wanted to take over the Green Line as its passenger numbers exceeded 500,000 daily, making it highly lucrative for those in control. BTS director Anat Arbhabhirama said the BMA's decision to hire his company guaranteed the public would have world-class electric trains in the long run. His company preferred a long-term contract to annual ones. As BTS's Green Line concession will expire in 17 years, the BMA has hired the company in advance to operate the original 23km route over the 13 following years. It has also contracted the company to operate trains on two extended routes of the system over the next 30 years instead of offering annual contracts, as it did in the past.