BTS operator threatens to sue City Hall over skytrain debt
Firm says BMA has ignored B30-billion bill for operating mass transit extension
The operator of the BTS skytrain is considering suing the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to collect some 30 billion baht in costs incurred from running the Green Line extension, its chief operating officer said on Friday.
A deadline to pay the debts that have accumulated since service began on the BMA-owned extension expired on Wednesday.
Surapong Laoha-Unya, executive director of Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC), said the issue had come to “the final destination”. The company’s legal unit has been assigned to seek legal remedies against the BMA and its business arm, Krungthep Thanakhom.
His warning came after BTSC representatives submitted a letter to City Hall reminding it of the 30 billion baht in debt incurred from hiring the company to operate the Green Line extension and related expenses since April 2017. The debt was due on March 31.
Mr Surapong said the company had not received any responses from the BMA and Krungthep Thanakhom since the deadline passed, and it had the right to take legal action.
BTSC, a subsidiary of SET-listed BTS Group Holdings Plc, owns the Silom Line from National Stadium to the Taksin Bridge station, and the Sukhumvit route from Mor Chit to On Nut. The extensions from the ends of those two lines are owned by the BMA, which hired BTSC through Krungthep Thanakhom to operate the service.
Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang said in February that City Hall had no money to service the debt. It planned to raise the fare ceiling on the skytrain from 65 baht to 104 baht to raise funds for the payment, but the central government put the brakes on the plan, saying many commuters were already suffering financially because of the the Covid-19 pandemic.
The BTSC chief said on Friday that the dispute would have no impact on services on the extension, as the company would not allow a business conflict to affect riders.