Not enough has been done to involve locals in the 14-billion-baht Chao Phraya promenade project, the so-called New Landmark of Thailand, academics said.
Overseen by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s Public Works Department, the proposed concrete riverbank structure stretches between the Rama VII and Pin Klao bridges, spanning 14km. At a recent seminar on the project, residents and businesses raised concerns about the impact on tourism and the visual amenity of the area.
Prinya Thaewanarumitkul, Thammasat University’s vice-rector for student affairs, said the project needs public involvement to improve its social and environmental sustainability.
While he did not oppose the project, Mr Prinya said most academics were concerned about the lack of public say on such a large project.
Many people will be affected by the construction and they should be informed of its impact and be allowed to voice their concerns, he said.
Mr Prinya was speaking at a seminar held at Thammasat University, attended by more than 100 people including residents from the Bang Lamphu and Bang O communities, members of the Friends of the River lobby group, and city planning experts.
Rujiroj Anambutr, at the Faculty of Architecture, Silpakorn University, said residents must be given a say and efforts should be made to include their contribution.
Jaraswan Kaewkonggungwal, the Chao Phraya River cruise operator, said the promenade will block the views of tourists cruising along the river.
She said it would be better to spend the budget on improving residents’ livelihoods and to restore historical sites, rather than building a bike lane, which is part of the riverside project.
“For me, a bike lane along the river is not a good idea. We need to discuss the issue,” Mr Rujiroj added.
Dr Naris Kitnarong, of Siriraj Hospital, asked the promenade developer to make more details about the project available.
Thammasat University will hold forums on the promenade and allow participants to discuss the project, Mr Prinya said. He did not say when the forums will be held.
Mr Rujiroj said Silpakorn University will invite experts to exchange ideas.