Cheers of “Long Live the King” echoed along the River of Kings yesterday as His Majesty travelled by a double-decker cruise ship from Bangkok to Nonthaburi to preside over the inauguration of five royal projects at the Royal Irrigation Department headquarters.
The five projects are Khun Dan Prakan Chon Dam in Nakhon Nayok, Khwae Noi Bam Roong Dan Dam in Phitsanulok, Payang Bhumipat water tunnel in Kalasin, Thoranit-Narumitr Water Gate in Nakhon Phanom and Uthokvibhajaprasid Water Gate in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
The King, accompanied by Her Majesty the Queen and HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, also inspected communities along the Chao Phraya River hit by severe flooding late last year.
The King left Siriraj Hospital at 4.30pm to board the Angsana ship, which was provided by the Royal Thai Navy, and cruised to the RID head office for the ceremony at 6.45pm. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Interior Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit were also onboard the ship.
Since morning, people, mostly clad in pink shirts, camped along the Chao Phraya from Bangkok’s Siriraj Pier to Koh Kred Pier in Nonthaburi to try to get a peak at their beloved monarch on the boat. Homes along the river, especially those along the route, were decorated with national flags and the royal flag.
People got excited and cheered “Long Live the King” when they saw the royal vessel. Some even wept tears of joy.
The ceremony, broadcast live on TV and radio, was watched by many in the five provinces where the projects are located.
Some 2,000 people, most clad in pink, gathered at the ceremonial ground in front of Khun Dan Prakan Chon Dam in Nakhon Nayok’s Muang district. Ten large tents were set up for guests along with a large 10-metre-long stage with the King’s portrait and dome-shaped flowery offerings. Four large projectors showed the event live from Nonthaburi.
Farmer Sawai Sriya said he was grateful the King officially opened the dam, which was useful and would make his neighbourhood of Tambon Hin Tang more fertile with enough water for farming. “Before we had to dig 8 metres before we get water, now we only dig 4-5 metres and we can grow rice three times a year,” he said adding that the dam had become a tourist attraction that created jobs and income for locals.
At the Payang Bhumipat water tunnel in Kalasin’s Khao Wong district, tens of thousands showed up to attend the opening ceremony and observed the activity in Nonthaburi live. Meanwhile, the Khwae Noi Bam Roong Dan Dam in Phitsanulok’s Wat Bot district also drew a large crowd wearing pink to admire the project exhibition and observe the official opening. Similar scenes occurred at the other two sites.
At the RID head office in Nonthaburi last night, the King observed a light-and-sound multimedia presentation entitled “Nam Sang Chewit” (Water Creates Life), which was presented on a riverside stage, projected onto a wall of large white screens.
The show narrated farmers' drought woes and related water management issues, how the five projects came about, plus brief interviews with related officials and affected people.