Don't rush promenade

Don't rush promenade

The fight against the city's controversial Chao Phraya Riverside Promenade will intensify later this month when a civil network petitions the Administrative Court for an injunction against the project.

Friends of the River (FOR), along with representatives from various agencies, including the Association of Siamese Architects (ASA), will present more evidence opposing this contentious project.

The network will also once again ask for a court injunction pending a hearing and verdict on its petition. Last year, the court turned down a similar request largely on the grounds that the project had not begun.

The network's action is a fierce response to the BMA's Nov 22 announcement that the project is ready for take-off. Paranee Sawasdirak, a core leader of the network and town planning expert, said details of their campaign will be given to the media at a press conference today.

Recently, ASA president Atchapol Dusitanond said he submitted a petition to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, asking him to withdraw the plan as it poses a major risk to the area's environment, river ecology, history, riverside culture and water transport. Quite a few old riverine communities have already been booted out to pave the way for the promenade.

The network and the state agency have locked horns ever since the project was initiated by the military regime late in 2014. Dubbed the "New Landmark of Thailand", it was floated by Gen Prayut, who was then head of the military regime. It was first designed to stretch 7km on both sides of the river -- with the area from the Rama VII Bridge to Pin Klao Bridge being transformed into a mix of walkways and bicycle lanes. It was originally estimated to cost around 14 billion baht, but the proposed budget has since been cut substantially.

The BMA has revised the plan, taking out sections that pass through old town quarters -- those linking Rop Krung Canal and the Bang Yi Khan canals with Pin Klao Bridge -- as suggested by the National Committee on the Conservation of Rattanakosin and Old Town Conservation.

Chiradeth Karunkitkul, deputy chief of the BMA's Public Works Department, told the media on Nov 22 that the agency is ready for construction to begin.

He said preparations for the now 8.3-billion-baht project have been completed, adding "everything depends on the government's decision".

The agency is in the process of seeking 10% of the budget, around 800 million baht, from the government for procurement and is about to hire contractors. It disputes the FOR's allegations and claims a full set of consultations have taken place.

However, Ms Paranee insists the BMA has kept many details under wraps and failed to deal plainly with communities and groups who will be affected by the project.

The prime minister or interior minister Niphon Bunyamanee who oversees the BMA should show leadership and intervene to ascertain whether the BMA has failed to incorporate public feedback as charged. They should not be afraid to delay the project.

On the contrary, because court cases are normally lengthy, the premier and Mr Niphon have plenty of time to make sure the BMA follows all the necessary steps to squash any suspicions of wrongdoing with this significant endeavour.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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