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Once again OTP ( Office of Traffic & Transportation Planning)has failed to live up to its title: It would appear that there will never be an expansion of the existing BTS/MRTA/SRT lines, and Bangkok commuters should resign themselves to that fact now!

This from todays Nation.

MASS TRANSIT

Govt misses deadline on guidelines

Fails to deliver terms of reference for bids

The failure of the Office of Traffic and Transport Policy and Planning to deliver the terms of reference for the Bt500-billion mass-transit expansion to interested bidders yesterday threatened to derail the development timetable, which is already shaky from a looming political crisis.

A source in the office said that the draft specifications were ready but needed to be reviewed by a committee – to be chaired by Transport Minister Pongsak Ruktapaisal – that would screen special government investment policies.

“The committee members have not yet been appointed, adding to fears that the investment programme will go nowhere amid possible political changes,” the source said.

Under the timetable, companies interested in the 10 proposed rail routes should have already received the bid documents. Two months from now, they are supposed to submit their technical proposals to the office. The proposals would then undergo a lengthy evaluation process, and the winners would be announced late this year.

Pongsak said Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra should appoint the committee members this week so that the terms of reference could be delivered interested bidders this month. The selection process takes time because five committees, each with 18 experts, would evaluate them, he said. The panels have yet to be created.

“They [the experts] must have expertise and we also need to ensure that they have no conflicts of interest and are qualified to be involved in the special government projects,” he said.

Another source at the office, which is charged with plotting the rail routes, said worries were growing over whether the government could keep to its tight schedule if Thaksin comes under mounting pressure to quit or dissolve the House of Representatives.

“In either case, this will affect the projects. As prime minister, Thaksin chairs the committee which will give the final say on who will win the bids. If Parliament is dissolved, the interim government would not be allowed to make the decision given that it concerns such a huge investment sum,” the source said.

The government should rush to publish the terms of reference – which paint a broad picture of how the projects should be developed and completed – so consortiums can submit their bids before any political change occurs, he said.

“What if there is a political change before they submit the bids? If Parliament is dissolved, the project will go back to square one,” he said.

Under the TOR, consortiums would be allowed to swap members with one another when bidding on different routes, because the criteria for construction techniques, experience and financial strength are different for each route on, he said.

Watcharapong Thongrung

The Nation

Edited by andyfletch
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