By Pratch Rujivanarom
The Cabinet will soon consider the Bt35-billion project to construct a promenade along a 140-kilometre stretch of the Chao Phraya River from Pathum Thani, to Bangkok and on to Samut Prakan.
This project is part of the much-publicised and heavily-criticised “Chao Phraya for All” initiative. The feasibility study on the 140km-long promenade will make its way to the Transport Ministry before the end of this month, after which the proposal will be handed over to the Cabinet for approval. “This project is the big development plan for the Chao Phraya River from Pathum Thani to Samut Prakan.
“It will improve the landscape and open public spaces for everybody along the 140km-long riverbank,”
Chaiwat Tongkamkoon, director-general of the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP), said last week. However, an architect, speaking on condition of anonymity, has expressed concerns that this mega-project could adversely change the lives of riverside communities.
“I’ve never heard of a river promenade that stretches this far before,” he said.
“The authorities should carefully review this project. You just can’t think up a project. You must prepare one that is based on people’s real needs.”Since last year, the OTP has spent Bt30 million on conducting a feasibility study. At the time of Chaiwat’s interview, the study was almost completed and looked set to be submitted to the Cabinet. The study covers the entire 140km stretch of the Chao Phraya River from Pathum Thani Bridge to Tambon Bang Krachao in Samut Prakan.
The promenade is scheduled for completion by 2020.“If the project gets the green light, we can start disbursing the budget and let local authorities and agencies carry out the construction work,” he said.
Of the eight plans, the one showing the most progress was the seventh one, under the jurisdiction of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administra-tion (BMA).The design for the first phase for a 14km stretch of the river in Bangkok has already been finalised. This phase is more complete because the BMA can use its own budget, while the OTP has to wait for a central budget and the responsibility for implementing the |project rests with many local authorities.
Construction to start in early 2017“The BMA’s Chao Phraya riverside promenade can commence construction in the first quarter of next year, but the rest of the project will have to wait a bit longer because of bureaucratic procedures,” he said.
The OTP aims to start with the fifth and sixth phases in Nonthaburi, as that part has the greatest potential for development and will be the northern extension of the promenade in Bangkok, he added.
Taiwut Khankaew, director of the BMA’s Building Control Division, said King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Lat Krabang would submit the final draft of the promenade design next Monday.The controversies surrounding the design will not be a problem for the overall project, he added.
From now on, the BMA will coordinate with the Land and Marine departments to survey the land and houses encroaching on public land and waterways in order to let them move out to open the way for con¬struction.He said he could not tell right now how many houses and families will be affected, but everybody intruding into the river will have to go.
“There should be no problem with relocation, because the Social Development and Human Security Ministry will take care of those who have to move out by finding new homes for them,” he said.