First lot of 35 scandal-plagued fire trucks ready to be delivered for use end of September

The City Hall is expected to deliver the first lot of 35 fire trucks bought over a decade ago from an Austrian company to the Office of Public Disasters Prevention and Mitigation for use around the end of this month, Deputy Bangkok Governor Pol Gen Asawin Kwanmuang disclosed on Wednesday.

Repairs for 18 Mitsubishi fire trucks by the City Hall's workshop have been completed with two more to be ready for delivery soon, said the deputy governor, adding that, by the end of September, altogether 35 fire trucks will be ready for delivery for use.

The city administration bought altogether 315 fire trucks and 30 fire-fighting boats from Austrian firm � Steyer-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeug AG � about a decade ago. But the 6.6 billion baht deal was embroiled in corruption scandal resulting in a legal battle between the city administration and the Austrian firm which eventually went to the Geneva-based Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. The court ordered Steyer to pay the city hall Euros 20.49 million or (820) million baht on condition that the city hall must accept delivery of the truck and boat fleet.

In the course of the legal battle, the fire trucks and boats have been left to rot in two separate private warehouses in Nonthaburi and Laem Chabang, Chon Buri, incurring hundreds of million baht in rental fees which are yet to be settled.

Pol Gen Asawin admitted that the City Hall's workshop has limited capacity and cannot maintain the other 105 fire trucks which have different specifications and require special spare parts which have to be imported.

He said the city administration was in the process of finding a contractor to undertake the repairs for the rest of the trucks which are expected to be completed in March next year at a total cost of about 153 million baht.

The city hall is yet to settle a dispute over the rental fees of a parking lot in Nonthaburi with Namyong Terminal. The company has agreed to reduce the fees

from 926 million baht to 427 million baht but the city administration can afford to pay not more than 300 million baht.

An out-of-court settlement is due on Friday.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)