Maybe it's time to review all mega-projects
Prachachart Turakij editorial, Aug 11 Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has made a rare U-turn by scrapping the controversial seabridge project that would be a shortcut from Bangkok to the popular seaside resorts of Hua Hin and Cha-am.
Mr Thaksin said His Majesty the King had asked the government to study the project thoroughly before deciding whether to invest in it.
The prime minister also admitted that environmental concerns and the soaring construction cost of the 47-kilometre-long elevated road played a part in the government's decision.
By scrapping the project, Mr Thaksin has proved that he is a reasonable person. In the past, huge projects were implemented without proper studies into their impact on the environment or whether they were worthwhile.
The Laem Phak Bia seabridge project would start from Samut Sakhon, cut across the western part of the Gulf of Thailand to rejoin the south-bound Phetkasem highway near Cha-am in Phetchaburi province.
The government will now have to expand the Phetkasem highway to accommodate the increasing south-bound traffic. The expansion is necessary to ensure safety for travellers on the Phetkasem, the only national highway to the South.
Past mega-projects such as the Hopewell elevated railway and the Klong Dan wastewater treatment plant were mired in alleged corruption, causing great embarrassment for the country. These scandals were caused by politicians who sought financial gain for themselves.
Perhaps Prime Minister Thaksin should take this opportunity to reassess all mega-projects due to be implemented in the next five years. Those considered not worthwhile should be scrapped to save the national budget for other useful purposes.
Bangkok Post 15 August 2005 www.bangkokpost.com
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