Rama II expressway construction issues prompt contractor downgrade considerations

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

The construction of the Rama II Road expressway, currently plagued by delays, substandard work and safety concerns, has prompted Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin to consider downgrading contractors responsible for the project. The state budget office was instructed to investigate possible penalties for the contractors involved.

Patricia Mongkhonvanit, director-general of the Comptroller General’s Department, was called to meet with the prime minister yesterday to discuss the recurring issues. The department oversees the budgets of all state projects, said the Thai prime minister.

“The problems arising from the delays in the construction work on Rama II Road continue to have somewhat serious effects on people. They must be fixed,”

PM Srettha then left for Melbourne to attend the ASEAN-Australia summit.

Firms found to violate project deadlines or produce substandard work will be downgraded, he added. These punitive measures, he believes, will encourage contractors to be more attentive and responsible in their construction projects.

However, the Bangkok-born premier did not clarify whether the penalties would apply to both major contractors and subcontractors, or what the downgrading process entailed. Construction companies that win significant projects usually subcontract portions of the work to smaller firms.

Rama II Road is a primary connection between Bangkok and the southern region, including the popular resort town of Hua Hin. Traffic congestion on Rama II has been recognised by the current and previous governments as a detriment to tourism in the area. Local and international tourists opt for alternative destinations to avoid the traffic bottlenecks.

The expressway, designed to reduce travel time from Bangkok to Samut Sakhon, has in reality exacerbated congestion due to construction delays, frequent accidents, and road closures. The situation is particularly dire during weekends and long holidays.

Several construction mishaps have even led to fatalities. The most recent incident occurred on January 18, when a sling snapped, killing a worker and causing the crane’s lifting basket to plummet. In May, another worker was killed by a falling slab of concrete.

The construction of the new expressway is divided into ten separate contracts. It commenced in February 2012 and was initially set for completion in January next year. However, the main contractor has already been granted a six-month extension.

Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit assured on Monday that the expansion of Rama II Road would meet its new deadline, if not be completed ahead of schedule, with bi-monthly follow-ups, reported Bangkok Post.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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