By THE NATION
After evaluating the ministry’s major projects that could help stimulate the Thai economy in the first and second quarters of this year, Somkid said investment, particularly in public infrastructure, was the key. Noting a slowdown in disbursement, he asked the Transport Ministry to push the pace of mega-projects. In particular, he asked national carrier Thai Airways International for implementation of its plan to procure 24 aircraft by the end of this month, as well as speedier execution of its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) centre project, which is a joint project with European planemaker Airbus.
“This is a period when foreigners want to see the election [in Thailand]. The global export situation is not satisfactory so we have to strengthen the domestic economy. We must fully speed up in the first half of this year and once the election is over, we can carry on,” Somkid said.
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said the ministry would expedite its tasks and push major projects for Cabinet review within the next couple of months.
The ministry’s 21 urgent projects are worth a combined Bt1.29 trillion. Air transport projects include THAI’s Bt160-billion new fleet procurement of 38 aircraft and the Bt10-billion MRO centre, Suvarnabhumi Airport’s Bt16-billion satellite building construction and the Bt15-billion Chiang Mai Airport expansion. Water transport projects are the Bt84-billion third phase of Laem Chabang Port, the Bt23-billion Klong Toey Port expansion, and the Bt5-billion Ranong Port improvement.
The rail transport projects extend from the Bt179-billion Thailand-China high-speed railway, to the Bt220-billion high-speed rail which will connect three Thai airports (Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-tapao), and the Bt77-billion Bangkok-Hua Hin high-speed rail as well as laying double-track rail in several routes.
“We have asked THAI to accelerate its new fleet procurement and the joint investment for the MRO centre to be finalised within this June,” Arkhom said. A joint contract signing is expected by June.
The contract signing is expected for construction of the second section of the 252-kilometre Thailand-China high-speed rail project within one to two weeks, while bidding for other sections is likely during March-May.
The double-track railway – Khon Kaen’s Ban Phai-Nakhon Phanom extension – will be forwarded to the Cabinet for approval by early March and the remaining seven double-track rail projects will be proposed to the Cabinet by the end of that month.
Highway Route No 35 (Thon Buri-Pak Tho), Bang Khun Thien-Ekkachai section is reportedly in the bidding process and the contract signing is expected in March. The Rama III-Dao Khanong-Western Bangkok Outer Ring Expressway project is in an international bidding process with bids expected this month and the contract signing in April.