Friday, October 31, 2008

Bangkok's mass transit system to start 3 new lines

Construction next year for three projects

CHATRUDEE THEPARAT

Construction of three mass rapid transit projects worth a total of 211.99 billion baht needs to be accelerated and construction contracts should be signed this year, officials say.

Construction of the lines should start next year, said Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, who chaired a meeting of economic ministers yesterday.

The three mass rapid transit projects are the 23-kilometre Purple Line from Bang Sue to Bang Yai; the 27-kilometre Blue Line from Bang Sue to Tha Phra and from Hua Lamphong to Bang Khae; and the 70-kilometre Red Line from Bang Sue to Taling Chan and from Bang Sue to Rangsit. The projects are expected to be completed in 2013.

The 59.93-billion-baht Purple Line won cabinet approval in October 2007 and the project owner, the Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA), signed an agreement on March 3 to borrow from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to finance civil works.

The construction agreement with prospective contractors was originally expected to be signed by January next year but the current political drift has put the schedule in jeopardy.

The 79.03-billion-baht Blue Line won cabinet approval on Oct 2. The project is at the stage of environment impact analysis and of seeking JBIC financial support.

The 13.13-billion-baht Red Line from Bang Sue to Taling Chan is now at the second round of bidding, while the 59.88-billion-baht Red Line route from Bang Sue to Rangsit is at the stage of requesting approval for environmental impact analysis.

Ms Suparat said that Deputy Finance Minister Pradit Phataraprasit would visit China from Nov 4-7 to negotiate for loan support of US$400 million for the three mass-transit projects. Officials hope a lending agreement can be signed at the summit meeting of Asean leaders on Dec 15.

Ministers directed state agencies yesterday to clarify which agency would be responsible for the Green Line, the 37.52-billion-baht extension from Mor Chit to Saphan Mai and from Soi Baring to Samut Prakan.

Earlier, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration had informed the National Economic and Social Development Board that it would invest in the Green Line, while Transport Minister Santi Promphat said the cabinet had approved the MRTA as the agency that would implement the extension of the Green Line on March 19.

Currently, the Green Line project is in the process of environmental impact analysis.

In a related development, Ms Suparat said 7,200 kilometres of rural highway projects worth 1.8 trillion baht planned for construction between 2009 and 2012 were also tabled for the cabinet's consideration yesterday.

A total of 340 billion baht would be set aside from the 2009 fiscal budget to fund the projects' construction, with 280 billion baht already allocated.

The Transport Ministry yesterday asked for additional funding of 46 billion baht from the 2009 fiscal budget, while it plans to secure loans for remaining funding.

According to Ms Suparat, the economic ministers' committee also approved investment budgets for education and public health for 2009-11 worth 22 billion baht and 78 billion baht respectively.

Ms Suparat said the government planned to raise investments in megaprojects in 2009 from 250 billion to 350 billion baht. The investment expansion is a part of several stimulus measures the government hopes will help raise economic growth to 4% next year.

No comments: