By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM
SECOND PUBLIC HEARING HELD ON 149KM RIVERSIDE PROJECT
A SECOND public hearing on the Chao Phraya River promenade project was met with concern yesterday from some public-sector representatives. They feared it might have an impact on the nearby communities’ identity – though many others have come out in support of the project.
The Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP) launched a study on the project on April 1 and yesterday the second public hearing was held at Chatrium Hotel Riverside, Bangkok. It discussed the project’s suitability on economic, engineering and environment grounds, before the study ends on New Year’s Eve.
This OTP project, a 149-kilometre-long riverside promenade running from Pathum Thani to Bang Krachao in Samut Prakan, will cost approximately Bt14 billion. It is separate from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administra-tion’s proposed 14-kilometre promenade project.
Prakongsri Rumanakat, a representative of the Phibun Songkham Bridge Community in Bangkok’s Bang Sue District, said she supported the project because the riverside promenade would open access to the river for her community and be a recreation space for both locals and others.
“Currently, the community is cut off from the river by a high flood-prevention dike,” she said. “I see the promenade will extend beyond the dike and provide public space for the people and an alternative pedestrian route for the community,” Prakongsri said.
She said she was sure the project would not have any negative impact on the neighbourhood and most community members agreed with it.
The coordinator of the riverside promenade project, Kasidi Wichitak-sornpong, explained the project draft was based on transport, river hydrology, laws on land use and community identity.
“The river promenade will be a walkway for biking and walking, so the scale of the promenade will be only 4-6 metres wide. We assessed the project to ensure that no community riverside livelihood or environment would be destroyed,” Kasidi said. “This promenade will be a recreation area for everyone and it will help connect the transport in the city to the river.”
Project engineer Chale Kunawong disclosed there were six plans for a promenade in order to suit different environments along the riverbank and the riverside communities.
“These plans have different widths and styles and are on land, above the river and a floating walkway. We are also open for public opinion to review these plans,” Chale said.
Many people still have doubts about the project. Rassamee Kaosainan from tambon Suan Yai, in Nonthaburi’s Muang District, raised concerns that her riverside house would block access to the river. “I grew up and have lived with the river all my life, so I am very worried the project will cause traditional riverside livelihoods to fade away. Thai people lived in harmony with the river for centuries, but this project was inspired by foreign models and will erase tradition forever.”
She was also concerned the promenade would deform the river’s beauty. It might also provide easy access for thieves to loot nearby houses.