City Hall plans to promote water transport as a way to ease traffic congestion by linking major piers with subway and skytrain stations.
Among canals eyed for development is Khlong Phra Khanong, a 10-kilometre ageing waterway linking the Chao Phraya River and Khlong Nong Bon in Prawet district. Because Khlong Phra Khanong runs past part of the city's crowded Sukhumvit Road, officials envisage a connection between the canal and the skytrain line above the thoroughfare.
Passengers travelling on Khlong Phra Khanong will be able get off at piers near Phra Khanong and On Nut skytrain stations, deputy city clerk Manit Techaaphichok said.
He proposed the "pro-active move" at a recent forum on how to bring back water transport in Bangkok, once dubbed the "Venice of the East" for its network of canals.
City Hall has for decades promoted water transport as an alternative to increasing road traffic. Express boats in Khlong Saen Sep, linking the Phan Fa bridge and Bang Kapi, have proved a hit among city folks as they pass piers close to Ratchathewi skytrain station and Phetchaburi subway station, he said.
In the future, Mr Manit said, the Khlong Saen Sep route will be expanded to Min Buri district office in eastern Bangkok.
Participants in the forum agreed with City Hall's intention to restore the waterways, but said communities that live next to the canals must have a say in their development.
In South Korea, the government even demolished some roads that were built to replace canals, said King Mongkut University of Technology's (Thon Buri) Traffic and Transport Development and Research Centre director Thawatchai Laosirihongthong, holding up the East Asian nation as a model of pro-active waterway restoration.
Mr Thawatchai highlighted the need to adequately compensate people living near canals who may be adversely affected by water transport development.
Chavalit Chatararat, director of the TEAM Group of Companies, a consultant group, said people must also be encouraged to participate, because they will "take care of development in which they take part in", which will be important to the success of the transport projects.
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Writer: PATSARA JIKKHAM