Orange Line sparks anger in Din Daeng

The planned construction of the Orange Line electric train has spurred local protests in Pracha Songkhro in the city's Din Daeng area.

About 200 residents of Soi Pracha Songkhro 21 gathered at the soi yesterday demanding the government scrap the plan.

Residents learned from a public hearing late last month that a station of the Orange Line, which runs from Taling Chan to Min Buri, will be located in their community and result in some land expropriation.

Prasomporn Naksongsaeng, a 60-year-old Pracha Songkhro resident, said she was worried the shophouse she bought 40 years ago which is now worth 1 million baht would soon be demolished to make way for the subway project.

She fears the development will forever alter her way of living.

"Currently, I have no need to lock my house, nothing gets lost and we help each other take care of neighbourhood safety. It will be difficult to find good neighbours like this in a new community," she said.

"It's not that we don't like the convenience [of having a subway station nearby]. We do, but we're against it if it causes problems for our community."

The community has submitted letters protesting against the station to the prime minister, Bangkok governor candidate Pongsapat Pongcharoen, the transport minister and the Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA), the project's operator, but has received no responses.

Vichain Rangsart, 61, a community leader in the area, said he expects about 500 households to be affected by the construction.

But another resident, Chanitbhak Atthakornmetha, 29, said a few householders are willing to be relocated as they believe rumours that they will get a huge sum of money as compensation for the land expropriation.

"When I went knocking on people's doors for protest signatures, there was one house where they yelled at people to not sign because they believe the rumour that the MRTA will hand out 10 million baht per [expropriated] plot," she said.

There have been rumours that one building owner has already received 60 million baht from the government, but it was not true, Ms Chanitbhak said.

Narongsak Atthakornmetha, 27, another local, said his family of six will need to relocate to the outskirts of Bangkok if the project goes ahead.

He asked why the project was changed so that a station had to be relocated to his community. He said the original plan in 2009, under a study of the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning, was to construct the line through Mitrmaitree Road, which runs adjacent to his area.

He said MRTA officials have provided unclear information on the exact location of the subway to residents.

Yongsit Rojsrikul, MRTA governor, said the project is still in its early stages, with public hearings being organised to better inform locals about the impact of the Orange Line.

The next hearing will be held next month.

The route has been part of the city's mass transit master plan since 1997 but its details, including the locations of stations, were not drawn up until 2010.

As a result, some residents mistakenly thought the route had been changed recently, Mr Yongsit said.

"I don't understand why they have to protest," he said. "We are in the process of talks [on the project]. Work has yet to begin. I'm wondering whether there is some [ulterior] agenda behind the protest."

He said the plan is for Pracha Songkhro to have an Orange Line station to link to the Thailand Cultural Centre station, and for Ratchaprarop area to have a station to link to the Airport Link rail route.

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Writer: Nanchanok Wongsamuth & Amornrat Mahitthirook