Wissanu assures know-how transfer in train project

A deputy prime minister has assured Thai engineers of technology transfer in the Thai-Chinese high-speed train project.

Wissanu Krea-ngam met representatives of the professional groups on Monday to ease their concerns putting the project on a fast track might sideline Thai engineers and architects and Thailand would not get technology transfer.

Kamol Takkabut, chairman of the Council of Engineers, said after meeting Mr Wissanu at Government House he was told why the special power under Section 44 of the interim charter had to be used to speed up the plan.

"We were told it was used to exempt some clauses of the engineers law so the project could get off the ground. Mr Wissanu also assured us Thai engineers will get technology transfer and this will be put in the contracts," he said.

In any case, the Chinese will need to receive training on geology, ethics, related Thai laws and safety before they can get the Thai licences to operate, he said.

Amorn Pimarnmas, secretary-general of the council, said the council would meet Chinese representatives who would arrive in Thailand on Wednesday to develop the courses. "We will do our best to uphold the engineers law."

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha used his authority under Section 44 of the 2014 interim charter, which was retained as a provisional clause in the incumbent 2017 constitution, to speed up the long-delayed project.

Mr Wissanu earlier explained five issues had been delaying the plan. They are the requirements that Chinese engineers sit an exam for a licence to work in Thailand and for the project of high value to be scrutinised by an investment superboard.

Other issues are the need for clear median prices and names of Chinese companies which are not known at the moment and potential land disputes as the rail will go through some land reserved only for agriculture (Sor Por Kor land).

Gen Prayut signed the order on Thursday to exempt all of these requirements, attracting criticism and concerns among professionals, who fear by accommodating the Chinese, Thailand will not get technology transfers.

Another widely criticised issue of the project is Beijing's requirement for some 50 metres of land along each side of the railway to be preserved for project development similar to the Laos-China railway project.

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said his ministry should be able to submit the project for the 3.5km section for cabinet approval this month and contracts for construction designs will be signed in July.

According to plans, the first section runs from Klang Dong-Pang Asok in Nakhon Ratchasima. The second section is from Pak Chong-Klong Khanan Chit in Nakhon Ratchasima (11km). The third links Kaeng Khoi district in Saraburi province with Nakhon Ratchasima (119km) and the fourth connects Bangkok with Kaeng Khoi (119km).

 

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