The Supreme Administrative Court has overruled the lower court and ordered the State Railway of Thailand and the Transport Ministry to pay 11.88 billion baht in compensation to Hopewell (Thailand) Co for the cancellation of a mega-transport project two decades ago.
The Supreme Administrative Court ruling, read out on Monday, was for SRT and the Transport Ministry to pay 9 billion baht for construction costs incurred by Hopewell, return a 2.85-billion-baht land use fee Hopewell had paid to the SRT and a 38-million-baht fee for the issuance of a project guarantee.
The court ordered payment plus 7.5% interest be made within 180 days.
The final ruling dismissed both sides’ petitions on the issue, saying their dispute was their own and the Administrative Court was in no position to make a ruling on those matters.
Therefore, their dispute returned to the ruling of the arbitration committee which on Nov 8, 2008, ordered the SRT and the Transport Ministry to pay compensation. The state agencies should also return a project guarantee of 500 million baht to Hopewell (Thailand) Co.
In March 2014, the Central Administrative Court ruled the arbitration committee lacked authority to decide on the Hopewell project because Hopewell filed its complaint after the five-year arbitration complaint period finished.
The contract to build the Hopewell project was signed on Nov 9, 1990, when the late Montri Pongpanit was transport minister in the Chatichai Choonhavan government. The multi-tier system was designed to be built above the existing main railway tracks of greater Bangkok, with layers for a toll road, long-haul and commuter trains, frontage roads and commercial property development on the ground.
Seven years later, the cabinet of then prime minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh announced it would scrap the contract after the company halted construction in 1997 during the so-called “tom yum goong” financial crash.
The contract was officially terminated on Jan 27 in 1998 by the Chuan Leekpai government, at which time Suthep Thaugsuban was transport minister.
The concrete pillars and beams of Hopewell’s abandoned Bangkok Elevated Road and Train System remained an eyesore along Vibhavadi Rangsit Road in Bangkok for over a decade. They have since been removed to allow for construction of the Red Line commuter railway.
The cost had been estimated at 80 billion baht in 1990 when the 30-year concession was granted.