Skytrain operator releases another video, reminding BMA of THB40 bn accumulated debt
Skytrain operator BTS on Monday stepped up pressure on the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to pay up the accumulated debt of 40 billion baht the city administration owes the operator for running the Green Line extension.
Bangkok Transit System Corporation (BTSC) once again played a video clip, featuring BTS Groups Holdings chairman Keeree Kanjanapas, reminding the BMA of the debt, which he said has accumulated to over 40 billion baht. BTSC is a company under the group.
The clip was repeated inside trains of the Green Line and at all BTS Skytrain stations.
A source from BTSC said the clips would be played for 15 consecutive days.
Before Keeree’s long exhortation in the clip, the video started with a narrative that says:
“How long can we continue shouldering this debt? We work but don’t get paid. Our cost is rising every day while those in power pass the responsibility on instead of making a decision. It’s about time the problem is tackled. Don’t avoid it. Don’t let the private firm fight it alone. It’s about time to pay the debt of 40 billion baht for the Green Line [operations]. #DebtMustBeHonoured.”
In September last year, BTSC had filed a lawsuit against the BMA, suing the administration for the 12 billion baht it is owed for operating the Green Line extension and another 20 billion baht it is owed for the train operating system. The suit was filed after the BMA reportedly failed to pay the money owed within the April deadline. The debt amount reportedly rose because of the accumulated interest and the accumulated fees for operating the extensions.
In early September this year, the Central Administrative Court ruled in favour of BTSC in a case against the BMA and its business arm, Krungthep Thanakhom (KT). The court ordered the BMA and KT to pay the debt of 12.6 billion baht for operating the Green Line extensions since April 2017 within 180 days but Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt said the BMA would appeal against the ruling.
In the video clip, Keeree said the BMA or the central government, which supervises the BMA, “should pay what it should”.
“The amount is over 40 billion baht. The private firm that invested in the operation has to pay the cost every day. It has to pay salaries and the electric bills,” Keeree said.
“Those in power, the government, the BMA or politicians in power must take a look at this issue. The interest is increasing every day.
“Anyone in power must realise that we have to shoulder interest every day. I must be paid.”
Keeree said despite the rising cost because of the BMA or the government’s failure to honour the debt, the BTSC would not halt the Skytrain service as that would affect the people.
“I give my word that I won’t stop the trains because if I do it, the people will be affected,” Keeree said.
The BTSC reminded the BMA and the government to repay the debt after Chadchart late last month voiced opposition to the decision of the now-defunct National Council for Peace and Order to extend the Green Line concession for 30 years from 2029 to 2059 for BTSC.
Chadchart said the Green Line operation should undergo a thorough selection procession under the Public-Private Partnership Act after the concession expires.
The governor also called on the government to pay for the infrastructure of the extension routes or take over the project from the BMA.