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BMTA told to consult NESDC on ambitious electric bus plan


Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha instructed the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) to first consult with a government economic advisory panel before going ahead with its plan to hire private firms to operate 224 electric buses, a source said.

The well-informed source said Prayut put the brakes on the project when he chaired a meeting of the State Enterprise Policy Committee on June 22 at Government House.

The committee took up the BMTA’s electric bus project for consideration and expressed concern that the state firm might trim the number of buses from the initial plan of 224 to sidestep a requirement for the project to be scrutinised by the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC), according to the source.

By law, a state enterprise must first seek NESDC endorsement if it wants to implement a project worth 1 billion baht.

The BMTA initially planned to hire private companies to operate 400 electric buses but trimmed the number to 224 and lowered the budget to 953 million baht, the source claimed.

BMTA told to consult NESDC on ambitious electric bus plan As a result, the meeting felt the BMTA cut the project down to sidestep NESDC scrutiny, so the committee asked the BMTA to consult the advisory panel no matter what the value of the project is, the source said.

A BMTA representative defended the project, saying it had to bypass NESDC scrutiny for the sake of speedy implementation without any ulterior motives, according to the source.

The plan to open bidding for private firms to operate 224 of the buses is part of the BMTA’s ambitious restructuring master plan.

BMTA told to consult NESDC on ambitious electric bus plan The organisation wants to hire private firms to operate a total 2,511 electric buses. Under the initial master plan, the number of buses would be divided into seven lots, with the first to the sixth seeing the hiring of 400 electric buses each, while the last lot would use 111 buses.

During the meeting, the committee also asked the Transport Ministry, which supervises the BMTA, to make sure the state firm complies with its decision.

The ministry and the BMTA were also asked to keep the committee updated on the progress of BMTA’s restructuring.

Published : June 30, 2022

By : THE NATION