Riverbank promenade 'ready to rise'
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has broken a year-long silence on its contentious Chao Phraya Riverside Promenade project by announcing most obstacles have been overcome and construction will begin once it receives a budget.
Officials have almost completed preparations for the 8.3-billion-baht scheme, so "everything now depends on the government's decision", said Chiradeth Karunkitkul, deputy chief of the BMA's Public Works Department.
He spoke on Friday while leading city councillors on a visit to parts of the 14-kilometre stretch of riverbank earmarked for transformation into a mix of walkways and bicycle lanes.
Mr Chiradeth appeared undaunted by opposition to the project, highlighted by a case in the Administrative Court.
Following work to build understanding among people and organisations "we have already removed 95% of the obstacles and are now ready for the construction", he said.
The BMA has, however, scrapped plans for an unbroken promenade between the Rama VII and Pin Klao bridges, after the National Committee of Rattanakosin Island and Old Town Conservation insisted the riverbank should be preserved. The plan has now been split into four sections -- 2.99km between Rama VII Bridge and the Royal Irrigation Department (RID), 3.26km from the RID to Rop Krung canal, 3.2km from Rama VII Bridge to Bang Phlat canal, and 2.98km between the Bang Phlat-Bang and Yi Khan canals.
Mr Chiradeth even set a budget and construction timeline, with 10% of the cost paid in the first year and a completion deadline of 540 days.
The complaint was lodged late last year by the Friends of the River group, led by landscape architect Yossapon Boonsom. They said the 10-metre-wide promenade would threaten river flow, boat travel and riverside communities.