Court Orders Govt Pay 12B Baht Over Failed ‘Hopewell Project’

A file photo of rows of concrete pillars left behind from the unfinished ‘Hopewell Project.’ Photo: Matichon
A file photo of rows of concrete pillars left behind from the unfinished ‘Hopewell Project.’ Photo: Matichon

BANGKOK — A top court on Monday ordered the government to pay 12 billion baht to a Hong Kong construction firm over Bangkok’s unfinished “Hopewell Project,” aborted more than two decades ago.

The Supreme Administrative Court said the Transport Ministry must pay compensation to Hopewell Holdings within 180 days, with back-paid interest dating to 2008 to be calculated at an annual rate of 7.5 percent. The Court’s ruling reversed a 2008 decision to acquit the ministry of unfairly terminating the contract.

The penalty relates to the cancellation of the contract for a mega-development project, which left rows of concrete structures standing in the north of the capital as a physical reminder of the unfinished construction. The more than 500 concrete pillars were meant to form an extensive network of elevated tollways and railways.

The project, which was approved during the economic boom in 1990 with a budget of 80 million baht, was repeatedly delayed due to political instability, economic recession and several cases of alleged corruption. The government officially cancelled it in 1998, with less than 14 percent of the construction completed after seven years.

Officials only ordered the concrete pillars be torn down six years ago to make way for construction of a new suburban railway. The first phase of the new transit system connecting Bang Sue to Rangsit and Taling Chan is expected to be launched January 2021.