Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha indicated he is ready to work with newly elected Bangkok Gov. Chadchart Sittipunt – who he jailed seven years ago while staging the 2014 coup – to settle the contentious Green Line concession-extension issue.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and the Interior Ministry are pushing an extension of the Green Line another 30 years from 2029, despite fierce criticism from consumer groups, the opposition Pheu Thai Party and Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob of the Bhumjaithai Party, a key coalition partner.
Prayut has insisted the extension to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s Green Line – better known as the Skytrain Sukhumvit Line – needs to done in accord with legal requirements.
The government and Bangkok city hall have failed eight times to agree on extending the concession to Mass Transit System Plc. and allowing it to raise fares to a maximum 65 baht.
Prayut said discussions over the extension will resume once Chadchart takes office with the benefit of the public being the primary consideration.
“The longer this issue is left to drag on, the longer the commuters will continue to suffer. We want to see this matter resolved successfully with help from all sides,” Prayut said.
Chadchart – the transport minister under Yingluck Shinawatra who was handcuffed and detained on Prayut’s orders during the 2014 coup – has criticized the length of the deal and the fact it was brokered by Prayut in his role as junta leader under Section 44 of the interim constitution, which granted him powers to basically do anything he wanted.
Chadchart has said he doubts the deal complies with the public-private joint venture law and that an elected Bangkok City Council would never have agreed to taking on 60 billion baht of the government’s debt to construction the Green Line extension as Prayut ordered.