Blue Line construction intrudes on history
Valuable old buildings which form part of the national heritage are being put at risk
While many residents are eagerly awaiting the next subway line to ease the agony of commuting, another kind of woe has arisen because of the construction - that of the cost to Bangkok's cultural heritage, in particular in the city's treasured old quarter.
The construction of the Blue Line subway is spelling out "the blues" for people fearful it could wipe out some precious historic places.
A section of the Blue Line from Hua Lamphong to Phutthamonthon - coming in at a hefty price tag of 49.9 billion baht - will pass through old city precincts in Samphanthawong district, and that is where the danger lies, according to local residents.
The district is home to clusters of architectural heritage sites in the Yaowarat, Song Wat and Werng Nakhon Kasem areas.
The train route will include stations in the inner historical zones including at Wat Mangkon Kamalawat, one of the country's most-visited Chinese temples which is more popularly known as Lengnoeiyi Temple, and Wang Burapha.
A brand new Centara Sappaya Design Resort Rayong in the making
Centara Sappaya Design Resort Rayong is to temporarily close from May 6, 2013 to allow full renovations and the construction of an eight-storey building that will add 30 rooms distinctively designed room to the resort along with a new Spa Cenvaree, a fitness center, another restaurant outlet, and a remodeled lobby.
The projected date for reopening is November 2014.
The resort is the smallest of the Centara Hotels & Resorts properties, having at present only 13 guestrooms, and built to a designer style for the independently minded traveler.
Located on the beachfront in a quiet and rural part of Rayong, the ambience of the resort is one of a secluded and luxurious residence.
Bouygues to build Thai solar plant
Two subsidiaries of Bouygues Construction have signed a US$50m (£33m) contract for the design, construction and maintenance of three photovoltaic power plants in the Tak and Sukhothai provinces of north-east Thailand.
Bouygues Thai and Bouygues Energies & Services are carrying out the work for solar energy producer Soleq Solar Thailand.
In total, the three solar farms will be equipped with more than 100,000 photovoltaic panels over 60ha and will deliver annual production of approximately 45GWh, equivalent to the annual consumption of the households in a Thai city of 90,000 people. Each site will have peak power of 10MW.
Myanmar to revive 'Death Railway'
An elegant cemetery in strife-torn southeast Myanmar has long stood as a lonely testament to the fate of thousands of prisoners of war who died building Japan's "Death Railway".
As the fast-changing nation now opens to the world, a reformist regime is considering rebuilding a stretch of the notorious World War II track to attract tourists and help develop border areas, where memories of the line have been eclipsed by conflict and poverty under decades of junta rule.
Local gardeners pluck weeds and tend flowers between neat lines of graves at the Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery in Mon state for some 3,000 Allied troops who died building the line between Myanmar and neighbouring Thailand.
"After seeing this cemetery people do not want to see war. There should not be war in the whole world," gardener Myat Soe told AFP.
"Because the soldiers died the way they did the world remembers them with sorrow. Dying fighting is honourable, but dying like this is very sad."
Many epitaphs at the site, funded by the Britain-based Commonwealth War Graves Commission, are a heart wrenching testament of how bewilderingly distant the country then called Burma was for the families of those killed.
2020 deadline speeds up the construction of 5 Thai motorways
3 roads to be funded by 2 trillion transport loan
The government has prioritised the construction of five inter-provincial motorways, which will cost 267 billion baht and span a combined length of 705 kilometres.
The construction of the motorways is expected to be completed by 2020.
The projects are among 13 motorways nationwide to be built under the Highway Department.
The 13 motorways will cover 4,150km and cost 472 billion baht. Two of these 13 motorways have already been completed. They are the 82km Bangkok-Chon Buri Road and the 64km Eastern Outer Ringroad.
C&G to spend Bt900 million building a waste-to-energy plant in Bangkok
C&G Environmental Protection Holdings will invest Bt900 million in its first waste-to-energy plant in Bangkok that can reduce waste by 500 tonnes a day while producing 9.8 megawatts.
Headquartered in Hong Kong and listed on the Singapore main board in April 2005, C&G is a leading waste-to-energy investor and operator in China.
C&G invests in, constructs, operates and maintains waste incineration power plants for the treatment of municipal solid waste under the build-operate-transfer investments schemes in China.
The company operates five waste-to-energy plants - Jinjiang, Hui'an, Anxi, Fuqing in Fujian and Huangshi in Hubei - and a sludge treatment plant in Jinjiang. Five more plants are slated to commence operation in 2012-13 - Jianyang and Nanping in Fujian, Langfang in Hebei, Yingkou in Liaoning and Xiaogan in Hubei.
ADB makes $85 million available for Thai PV projects
The Asian Development Bank has announced it will make US$85 million available for the construction of three photovoltaic projects in Thailand, worth 57 MW.
The plants, to be located in Thailand’s Nakhonpathom and Suphanburi provinces, will be developed under the country’s very small power producer program. The generated electricity is expected to be sold to Provincial Electricity Authority.
According to the initial environmental examination submitted in February, construction is scheduled to take around 11 months to complete. Polycrystalline photovoltaic technology will be employed, with REC expected to deliver the necessary modules. Meanwhile, the inverters will come from SMA.
Bina Puri bags RM81m Bangkok warehouse distribution centre job
Bina Puri Holdings Bhd has bagged a RM80.88 million contract from Thai Consumer Distribution Centre Co Ltd to build a warehouse distribution centre in Bangkok, Thailand.
Bina Puri, via its unit Bina Puri (Thailand) Ltd, received a letter of award on March 27, 2013 for the purpose. The construction period will take 14 months.
"With the award, the group's current unbuilt book order stands at RM1.86 billion," said Bina Puri in a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday.
The contract is expected to contribute positively to the earnings of Bina Puri Group for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2013.
Myanmar's Dawei infrastructure project in trouble
The budget for the construction of the project was set at US$8 billion. But two years have been passed and the project has used only US$52 million, the source said.
The project, implemented by Italian-Thai Development (IDP) has been importing construction tools and machinery since January 2011.
Although the company has spent on tools and machinery for the project, the amount invested is unknown and there has been no transparency. It is believed that the company is in financial difficulty, the source said.
Construction tools and machinery were imported via Nabule and Htikhi border trade centres last year. This year, they've been brought though the Nabule border trade centre.
Egco's solar power plants win ADB's loan
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing $85 million (Bt1.65 billion) for the construction of Solarco's three solar power plants in the central part of Thailand.
Solarco is a special-purpose company owned by Yanhee EGCO Holding, a subsidiary of Electricity Generating Plc, the country's first independent power producer and currently the second large private power producer in Thailand.
Under a public-private partnership programme, the three solar power plants will generate 57 megawatt.
"ADB is contributing to build a critical mass of successful large scale solar power projects in Thailand, which will give confidence to more investors and banks that solar power is a proven technology and a sound investment," said Daniel Wiedmer, Senior Investment Specialist at ADB's Private Sector Operations Department.
MRTA and SRT oversee Bt2-trillion rail plan
Big roles for MRTA, SRT in expansion drive
The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) and State Railway of Thailand (SRT) are tasked with implementing multiple rail and mass-transit projects under the Bt2-trillion state borrowing programme.
The government is awaiting parliamentary approval for its proposed legislation to borrow the massive amount.
According to Yongsit Rojsrikul, governor of the MRTA, his agency alone is responsible for eight elevated-train and subway projects in Bangkok and peripherals under the programme.
"The Purple Line of 23 kilometres from Bang Yai to Bang Sue is under construction," Yongsit said. "It's now 50 per cent completed. Another project, the extended Blue Line, which is more than 20km long, is also under construction. The third project under way is the south Green Line, which is 17km long, from Bearing to Samut Prakan.
Ch Karnchang gets Phase 2 of Bearing-Samut Prakan route
The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) has contracted Ch Karnchang for construction of the second phase of Green Line route between Bearing and Samut Prakan, worth about Bt2.4 billion.
MRTA chairman Ratchanee Treepipatkul said the contract would involve design and construction of the rail system, the third rail powering the electric train, and the maintenance centre. The construction will require 1,350 days. The elevated route will be 13 kilometres in length and include nine stations.
Purple Line readies for 2016 debut - New route expected to add 100,000 travellers
The long delayed Purple Line mass transit project is expected to be operational by 2016 as the operating and maintenance contract is estimated to be approved by the cabinet after Songkran, says subway operator Bangkok Metro Plc (BMCL).
The project was scheduled to start services in 2014 but massive flooding in 2011 caused delays to construction, said BMCL president Chaiwat Utaiwan.
He said the new route will help add another 100,000 passengers on top of estimated ridership of 270,000 for this year.
Mr Chaiwat said construction of the 16-kilometre route is halfway done and should take another 40 months before it is operational.
Thailand: Energy minister says solar roof to become more popular
Solar roofs are expected to be more popular in Thailand in the coming years given falling solar cell costs and rising gas prices, says energy expert and former energy minister Piyasvasti Amranand, the Bangkok Post reports.
Mr Piyasvasti, chairman of the Energy for Environment Foundation, said the average cost of solar energy at 5.12 to 5.99 baht per megawatt-hour (unit) will make it competitive with liquefied natural gas (LNG), which costs 5.71 baht per unit.
Solar roof costs are in the range of 5.4 to 6.5 baht per unit.
In the longer term, LNG prices will rise in line with global oil prices.
Solar power can also be a power back-up, particularly during peak hours. Normally, solar panels generate electricity during peak hours given the intensity of the sunlight.
"Demand for electricity at midday and in the afternoon should be served by electricity generated by solar panels," said Mr Piyasvasti.
Developers leaning towards demolition of apartments
The developers of the "Leaning Towers of Pathum Thani" are today due to announce whether or not they will demolish the 100 million baht project and rebuild.
Don Muang Grand Plaza Co Ltd has so far invested 70 million baht to build two apartment blocks with 132 rooms in each, located behind Zeer Rangsit Mall in Lam Luk Ka. Zeer Rangsit Mall owns the property.
"There is an 80% chance that we will destroy the building and rebuild again," the company said in a statement after a meeting with residents from the nearby Pummarin housing estate on Thursday.
"But we can't confirm what we are going to do with the building at the moment. We are still looking into the problem and considering the best solution," the statement said, adding they would announce their decision today.
Ku Kot municipality issued an evacuation order for the area on Monday, after police started receiving reports from local residents on Sunday that one of the towers was collapsing. Work was immediately suspended and labourers evacuated from the construction site.
BEUMER Group Opens New Factory Building in Thailand
BEUMER Group celebrated the official opening of the new factory building in Thailand, located in the eastern Chachoengsao Province.
BEUMER aims to offer more support for customers in this high-growth market and continue its practice of strategic internationalisation. In Chachoengsao Province, east of Bangkok, the intralogistics specialist has created a local presence with the founding of BEUMER (Thailand) Co. Ltd. enabling a fast delivery of spare parts and optimised service for the benefit of its customers. "I am convinced that, with the construction of a new building here in Asia, we have done exactly the right step to keep up with the growth of the Southeast Asian market", said Dr. Christoph Beumer. Peter Weiß, director of BEUMER group company in Thailand, called the successfully completed construction "a milestone". The building, with a production area and an office area of 1,000 square meters each, was finished in less than a year. It accommodates 80 workplaces in total. From now on, established BEUMER products will be prepared for delivery and components will be manufactured locally according to BEUMER quality standards.
Part of Purple Line train route to be run as MRT
The board of the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) has decided that the connection between the MRT subway and the Purple Line rail should be constructed and run by Bangkok Metro Plc (BMCL), and be an underground train line like the MRT.
The MRTA board decided that the one-kilometre route, connecting Tao Poon station of the Purple Line train route with the MRT's Bang Sue station, should be jointly built by the government and BMCL, who is currently running MRT train services.
According to chairwoman of the MRTA board Ratchanee Tripipatkul, this section of the Purple Line should be run as part of the MRT underground system because it is physically connected with the MRT station at Bang Sue.
MRTA Governor Yongsit Rojsrikul said that he agreed with the board's decision. He added that the MRTA would talk with BMCL and see whether the construction of the one-kilometre connection could be added as an extension to the MRTA's existing contract with BMCL.
Pak Bara seaport (Satun) plan to continue in face of opposition
The government is determined to go ahead with the construction of the Pak Bara seaport, in Satun Province of Thailand, despite criticism by environmentalists and local fishermen.
Marine Department Director-general Sorasak Sansombat said that the government will press ahead with the Pak Bara seaport project, which has been delayed for over a decade.
The Transport Ministry aims to conduct an environmental impact assessment (EIA) on the project, and start construction in 2016. The port is aimed to be finished in 2020.
Flood plans doomed to fail, engineers warn
The government's ambitious Bt350 billion water and flood management plans will likely fail to be completed within the five-year deadline due to environmental hurdles and opposition from communities over land expropriation, the Engineering Institute of Thailand (EIT) warned yesterday.
The flood-management plans for dams, reservoirs, a massive diversion channel and retention areas would be required to undergo environmental and health impact assessments. The massive projects will also require the cooperation of local communities and will take up large amounts of land. These processes, especially environmental assessment, will take at least two years to complete for each project, the EIT said.
Moreover, some projects will take more than five years negotiate the land deals with locals in order to avoid lawsuits, said EIT chairman Suwat Chaopreecha.
Skies clear over Dawei
New strategy agreed on by Thai and Myanmar governments secures the future of industrial and logistics megaproject, with contractor ITD still playing a leading role
After two years struggling to get the Dawei deep-sea port and industrial site in Myanmar off the ground, Italian-Thai Development Plc (ITD) has faced up to the reality that it will need to share the pie with other investors.
Though it held the original concession to develop the massive complex worth tens of billions of dollars, ITD saw that a change of approach was needed, said a source at the Bangkok-based contractor. It was simply waiting a clearer picture of what the Myanmar government wanted the company to be: either a developer or contractor.
Today, the picture is quite clear. And progress under the new strategic direction is expected to put an end to rumours that Dawei may fail to go ahead.
ITD managing director Premchai Karnasuta said recently that the new structure finalised by the Thai and Myanmar governments was the best way forward. It wasn’t the company’s idea, but he has no regrets about agreeing to changes.