Private sector may join light rail project

PHUKET: The private sector might be asked to join forces with the government to push through the more than 23-billion-baht light rail project slated for Phuket.

“When it comes time to propose the budget to the government, we will see if it is willing to take on the whole cost or if it will invest only a portion, giving the private sector an opportunity to join us,” said Sirigate Apirat, the project secretary at the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP). “A number of private investors have already shown interest in taking on the project.”

The original calculation of the light rail’s cost was 23 billion baht. However, that total is expected to increase following the recent changes suggested during the OTP site inspection earlier this month (story here).

“The adjustments to the four stations, as well as the choice of having a flyover at the airport, will surely see the requested budget rise beyond the 23bn baht we original expected to need,” Mr Sirigate said. “We should have the exact total nailed down soon.”

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Minister of Interior Gen Anupong Paojinda’s believes that the much-needed public transport infrastructure could get bogged down if only government funding is relied upon.

“There is limited budget available for the whole country. Letting the private sector join the investment might be a good solution,” Gen Anupong said.

The OTP will propose a budget once the project plan is finalized.

“There are some details that we need to finish by the end of the year. This way we can start on the Environmental Impact Assessment and propose the budget next year,” Mr Sirigate said.

— Nattha Thepbamrung

Phuket News

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