Irregularity spotted in bidding for Orange Line
The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has urged the Ministry of Transport and Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) to check the selection process of the firms that bid to operate the Orange Line railway and build its western section after spotting an irregularity regarding the qualification screening of bidders, a news source said on Tuesday.
In urgent letters dispatched to the Ministry of Transport’s permanent secretary and MRTA’s governor, the DSI said that it suspected that the bidding process for the Orange Line train project on the Bang Khunnon – Minburi section could be illegal, as the selection committee may have omitted the screening of qualifications of the two bidders, the source said.
The MRTA had called on bidders to tender their envelopes for the project on July 27, 2022. Only two entities submitted proposals: Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc (BEM), which operates the MRT system, and Italian-Thai Development (ITD) Group.
MRTA announced in September of that year that both bidders passed the technical qualification test.
The source said the DSI had earlier alerted the MRTA’s selection committee that ITD should not be allowed to participate in public-private partnership contracts. The DSI cited that one of ITD’s authorised directors has been sentenced to a jail term, thus annulling its qualification under the regulations announced by the Public-Private Partnership Committee.
The MRTA’s selection committee continued with the bidding process despite the DSI’s remark.
The DSI went on to say that the statement that the selection committee provided to the Parliament’s Ad Hoc Committee for Transport also stipulated that no bidder qualification screening be implemented.
This fact is in line with MRTA’s public relations materials, which state that bidders are responsible for certifying their own qualifications before submitting their proposals.
The bidding for the western Orange Line project is currently on hold pending the deliberations of the Supreme Administrative Court regarding possible corruption in the bidding process.
The 35.9km-long Orange Line is divided into eastern and western sections. The eastern section from the Thai Cultural Centre to Minburi is 22.5km long with 10 underground stations and seven elevated stations and is currently under construction.
The western section stretches from the Thai Cultural Centre to Bang Khunnon with a length of 13.4km and 11 underground stations.
The winner of the bid would sign a private-public partnership contract to operate the entire route after building the western section.