Danida Sues COWI Consult Over Failed Project On Koh Phi Phi

The holiday paradise Koh Phi Phi is overloaded by tourists. That’s why a water treatment plant would help to protect the environment on the tourist island – and thus protect the livelihood of the population.
After the Tsunami disaster, the local community had a huge problem with water to households, restaurants and hotels.
At the same time the Danish development cooperation agency DANIDA had both the desire and the money to flush the problem away with a positive Tsunami.
The Danish organisations turned to the longstanding partner, COWI Consult in Denmark. COWI has done projects for generations across the globe, many of them for DANIDA, and therefore accepted the task to deliver a turnkey treatment plant, which operation was based on solar energy.
That requirement is particularly important because Koh Phi Phi’s electricity prices are the highest in Thailand. And that was it. Done deal. COWI got its money, 7 million Danish kroner.
But the “gift” from the Danish society, ended up as something which can be described with words like disappointment, disgrace, etc. The local residents on the Thai island should go around smiling and – it was hoped – shpould also feel grateful for the new water cleaning  plant.
Instead, they now pinch their noses when they are forced to be in the vicinity of the site. It stinks. At the same time, the residents need to pay for expensive power for the stinky plant. The solar cells were really never to up anything, simply because the plant was both too small and inadequately equipped.
Now the stinking and badly functioning plant depend on the expensive power, something that just was particularly important for the Danish donors to avoid. The educational benefits in the solar energy project where the residents could see solar energy work, learn from it, and then even buy something similar, never happened.
The Danish ambassador to Thailand, Michael Sternberg, is according to the Danish television channel TV2 far from satisfied. His position is that the plant is not functioning.
“We feel it almost embarrassing to the residents on the island. There is something wrong with the plant, and we have not got what was written in the contract,” he says to the Danish TV station.
And the Ambassador has the backing of the Danish Foreign Ministry, which has now brought charges against their longstanding partner COWI Consult. The ministry believes the water treatment plant will never work well, and that it is currently a stinking disgrace for Denmark as a nation.
COWI Consult won the contract on the project which should help the hard hit community on Koh Phi Phi to work again after the disaster. And the consultant company knows that they did not create the world’s eighth wonder, for their 7 million kroner.
“There have been things about the plant that has not been optimal,” acknowledges Henrik Brade Johansen, COWI’s head of the failed project. But he believes that it is the fault of others. He denies that the problems are COWI’s responsibility, since it only accounted for the construction of the plant and not for the daily operation.
Minister of development Ulla Tørnæs however, is of a different opinion.
“It is an embarrassing case for Denmark, and it is of course COWI, who must bear the responsibility,” said the minister to TV2.
The seven million dollars was paid for the job was split into two portions. COWI was given three million kroner to carry out the task, while the remaining four million kroner was needed for the treatment plant and the necessary equipment.
The island of Kho Phi Phi has really seen what tourism can do about an environment, because it is one of the Asian Kingdom´s most vulnerable environments. A very beautiful island, located in the middle of a sea of coral reefs with countless fish species.

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