BTSC boycotts second round bidding for Orange Line
Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTSC), the operator of Skytrain, on Wednesday opted out of the new bidding for a 30-kilometre section of the Orange Line railway project, alleging that the bidding terms were designed to help a particular bidder.
BTSC chief executive Surapong Laoha-Unya said the operator decided not to participate in the bidding after it studied the new request for proposal (RFP) and found that its conditions were different from the first bidding.
Surapong said he suspected that the new RFP was aimed at benefiting a particular bidder.
He added that the BTSC has filed a lawsuit with the Central Administrative Court against the new RFP terms and it has also filed a complaint with the Department of Special Investigation, calling for an investigation into the new RFP.
Surapong alleged that the new RFP was aimed at preventing BTSC from winning the bid while allegedly helping a particular consortium to win the project.
He alleged that such a practice would violate the BE 2542 (1999) Act against bidding collusion.
At 10.25am, Prakin Arunotong, vice president of Italian-Thai Development (ITD), represented a consortium of ITD and Incheon Transit Corporation from South Korea to submit an envelope.
Building the 35.9-kilometre section from Bang Khunnon in the west to Minburi in the east is estimated to require a budget of 145 billion baht. But it has been bogged down by legal disputes since the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) started selling the bidding envelopes from July 10 to 24, 2020.
On August 21, 2020, the MRTA changed the bid criteria. The initial bidding terms considered those who promised the highest financial return. The amended version would take into account two factors — the technical aspects of the project and the financial returns.
On September 17, the BTSC filed a lawsuit with the Administrative Court, alleging that the change in bidding criteria was unlawful.
On February 3, 2021, the MRTA cancelled the first bid, prompting the BTSC to file another lawsuit with the Administrative Court against the decision.
On February 9, the Central Administrative Court ruled that the changing of bid criteria was unlawful.
On July 7, the Administrative Court ruled that the cancellation of the first bid was also unlawful.
However, the two court rulings did not touch the on-going new bids being invited by the MRTA. Observers believe that the new bid also would later be nullified by the court.