Local government under fire again for shady street lamp purchases

Photo via Watchdog ACT

An anti-corruption watchdog group is once again calling out a local government organisation for another purchase of expensive street lamps in Thailand. Many have accused a local administrative organisation in Samut Prakan, the next province just south east of Bangkok, of overpaying for the solar-powered lamps adorned with kinnaree figures of a mythical half-bird, half-woman, painted gold.

Hundreds of the decorative lamp posts have been placed throughout Samut Prakan’s Racha Thewa area. Some placed along streets that still need to be developed. One photo shared in the media shows the lamp post lined along a street so flooded that it looks more like a river. Another photo shows the lamp posts lining an undeveloped street with overgrown vegetation.

The Racha Thewa Tambon Administrative Organisation is under fire again for inviting electronic bids for the procurement of 720 more solar-powered lamps topped with the kinnaree figures at a median price of 68.7 million baht. The Facebook page Watchdog ACT says the results from the e-bidding will be released on March 11 and the project must be closely watched.

“Again, they make another purchase. We must closely watch this new purchase project.”

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Almost 1 billion baht has been spent on the decorative lamp posts in Racha Thewa since 2013, the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand, or ACT, estimates. The local government faced widespread criticism last year and were even investigated by the National Anti-Corruption Commission following accusations that they had overpaid for the street lamps. From 2019 to 2021, the Racha Thewa TAO reportedly spent 642.6 million baht on 6,773 lamp posts. That’s 94,884 baht for each street lamp.

The NACC launched its investigation into the alleged irregularities of the procurement of the street lamps in July 2021. Last month, the Bangkok Post reported that the commission was speeding up its investigation and had requested more documents.

SOURCES: Nation Thailand | Bangkok Post

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