Public outcry continues over Chao Phraya promenade

Public outcry continues over Chao Phraya promenade

A bird's eye view of the Chao Phraya River in front of a Bangkok landmark, the Temple of Dawn. The Chao Phraya promenade project has raised concerns over possible adverse impacts on the environment and cultural icons. (Photo by Krit Promsaka na Sakolnakorn)
A bird's eye view of the Chao Phraya River in front of a Bangkok landmark, the Temple of Dawn. The Chao Phraya promenade project has raised concerns over possible adverse impacts on the environment and cultural icons. (Photo by Krit Promsaka na Sakolnakorn)

Civic groups and academics renewed their opposition to the Chao Phraya promenade project at a seminar on Wednesday, calling for the expensive plan to be reviewed.

The seminar was held at Suan Santi Chaiprakan Park on Phra Arthit road to discuss possible adverse impacts on the environment, cultural heritage and the rights of riverside communities. 

The meeting was organised by architects and academics from a network called Friends of the River (FOR), the Association of Siamese Architects under the Royal Patronage of His Majesty the King and the urban conservation group Big Trees.

The 14-billion-baht bike and walkway, dubbed the “New Landmark of Thailand”, in its first phase will span seven kilometres on both sides of the river between the Rama VII and Pin Klao bridges. 

Yossapon Boonsom, a landscape architect and FOR co-founder, expressed concern that the project’s pathway of 12-15 metres wide would block the cultural landscape of the river, narrow down the waterway, and affect the local way of life of riverside communities.

According to a survey conducted by his group, Mr Yossapon said most riverine residents living in the project area had suspicions about the real intentions of the project and had not receive adequate information. 

Anthropologist Srisakra Vallibhotama said the Chao Phraya River is used for the royal barge procession, which is the country’s most important waterway pageantry event. He feared the huge concrete walkway would become an “ugly sight” during the spectacular event and ruin the view of the majestic river.

Kwansuang Atibodhi, an independent academic, questioned why the government was rushing the construction of the controversial promenade by making it an urgent project, and urged it to address all answers and concerns raised by the public sector. 

A member of Ban Poon community near the Rama VIII Bridge, who asked not to be named, was concerned that the promenade would have negative consequences on his neighbourhood such as issues relating to water drainage and criminal activities. 

He said residents of his community doubted how many people would use the promenade once it is completed and wanted to ask if Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha would ride his bicycle there every day after its opening.   


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