(CTN News) – In a significant legal development, Bangkok’s Orange Line rail project has obtained a favorable court decision from the Central Administrative Court.
The ruling supported the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) and responded to a lawsuit filed by Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC).
The legal dispute centered around accusations by BTSC, claiming that the MRTA unjustly altered the terms of reference (ToR) in a bid proposal, favoring a particular bidder for the extension of the Orange Line.
Court’s Decision Upholds Public-Private Partnership Investment Law: The court’s verdict asserted that the MRTA had acted per the public-private partnership investment law and had the right to adjust the ToR.
The committee responsible for selecting a private co-investing partner for the Orange Line extension adhered strictly to the law in their decision-making process.
Public Hearing and BTSC’s Compliance:
To address the proposed adjustments to the ToR, the committee facilitated 60 days for a public hearing, as mandated by the 2019 Public-Private Partnership Investment Act.
BTSC had initially requested an extension on the bid submission deadline, citing the need to secure a foreign partner to comply with the revised ToR.
The court noted that BTSC’s request demonstrated their understanding and acceptance of the new terms, indicating their intent to participate in the fresh round of bidding.
New ToR Requirements:
Following the ToR adjustments, bidders were now required to possess previous experiences in successfully executing state construction projects. This criterion was justified by the necessity for technical expertise and sufficient experience to construct the Orange Line’s new segment, including tunneling below critical areas.
Promoting Trust in Government Projects:
The court’s ruling aligned with existing regulations set forth by the Comptroller General’s Department, designed to foster trust in construction projects managed by government bodies. By enforcing stringent criteria for bidders, the court aimed to ensure that only qualified and experienced parties would be considered for the Orange Line extension project.
MRTA’s Shareholdings and Fair Bidding Process:
Addressing BTSC’s concerns about the MRTA’s shareholdings in Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc (BEM), the ultimate contract winner, the court referenced a 2000 cabinet resolution that obligated the MRTA to hold certain shares in BEM. The court’s ruling dismissed any claims of unfair influence, emphasizing the adherence to established legal obligations.
With the Central Administrative Court’s decision in favor of the MRTA, Bangkok’s Orange Line rail project can proceed confidently. The court’s ruling validated the MRTA’s actions, ensuring transparency in the bidding process and promoting the selection of qualified partners for the Orange Line’s extension. This milestone marks a crucial step towards the project’s successful realization, benefiting Bangkok’s citizens with improved mass rapid transit.