PHUKET: The latest joint-venture to approach Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha with ideas for Phuket’s light-rail project yesterday highlighted the need for developing transport links with other provinces.
“If the routes in Phuket are linked with routes in other provinces, rather than only focusing on light rail within Phuket, it can be a profitable investment,” said independent investor liaison Pranom Phuangkanok.
Mrs Pranom, representing Bangkok-based developer Roongwadee Construction 1991 Co Ltd, headed the delegation that met Governor Tri yesterday to discuss options in developing a light-rail system in Phuket.
Mrs Pranom explained to the Phuket Gazette that she is acting as facilitator between Roongwadee Construction and Chinese investors ready to fund the project.
She is also involved in a project to develop light-rail links between Surat Thani and Phang Nga provinces, Mrs Pranom said.
Governor Tri said the Chinese investors had already transferred US$100 million into a Thai bank to show they are prepared to invest in Phuket’s light rail project.
However, local representatives requested 15 days to perform a thorough assessment of the Phuket light-rail project as they said the information currently available was not detailed enough to propose to the investors ready to fund the project, he noted.
If the Chinese investors agree to go ahead and fund the project, investors and engineers will be invited to Phuket for further discussions. If everything goes well, he will move to contract, Gov Tri added.
“If the contract conditions are acceptable and not too binding for Phuket, I will submit a recommendation to the Ministry of Interior for final approval,” he said.
He clarified that the current routes he wants built simultaneously are the original planned route between Phuket International Airport and Chalong Circle as well as a new addition of 10 kilometers from the airport to the international convention and exhibition center site in Mai Khao.
Regarding previous discussions with prospective investors in the light-rail project, Governor Tri said the proposed contract conditions were unfair for Phuket.
“After reading the Thai translation of the contract originally drafted in Chinese, I felt the conditions put us at a disadvantage,” he said.
“It stated that before they would send engineers, we had to sign a promise to hire them, which I thought was too binding. If I signed the contract, we would have no right to consider other candidates,” he said.
“Those investors did not stipulate clearly when they would start the project, either. So I decided not to sign a contract with them,” he explained.
“What we are looking for from any interested investors in the light rail project is sufficient money to invest and proof that they have conducted a through study,” he added.
— Janpen Upatising
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