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BMA to fast track Chao Phraya project in 2017 despite community anger

BMA to fast track Chao Phraya project in 2017 despite community anger

FRIDAY, December 30, 2016
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EFFORTS to start the Chao Phraya riverside development project are expected to intensify next year, with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) confident it will begin the bid process to find a builder.

However, the River Assembly community group has urged people to closely monitor the procedures used and money spent in the state initiative.
The BMA’s Public Works Department said the riverside promenade and the proposed pedestrian bridge from Tha Phrachan pier to Siriraj Hospital will be among government mega-projects fast-tracked next year.
That is despite claims the projects will destroy the identity of riverside communities, damage the river’s ecosystem, and waste money on unnecessary projects.
Deputy director of the Public Works Department Pinit Lertudomthana said the riverside promenade was being audited by relevant agencies and the bidding process to find a construction firm would be held next year.
“We are already behind the original deadline for this project due to the heavy protest, so the Interior Ministry has asked the BMA rush the process,” Pinit said.
“Right now the promenade design and study by King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Lat Krabang is being reviewed by related agencies and the design will be amended according to their recommendations. The final draft of the promenade will have to pass the BMA’s committees again before the bidding process can start.”
Despite this, he was convinced the bidding process would start next year.
Pinit said the plan to build a pedestrian bridge across the Chao Phraya would also be determined next year. He said the BMA would finish the review process for this project by January 6 and it would then be considered by the government. 
He insisted that these projects would benefit the public and were very necessary.
But Yossapon Boonsom, from the River Assembly, stated that as the BMA planned to fast-track the projects next year, it was the public’s duty to closely monitor the projects including the spending.
“Based on the progression of previous projects of the BMA, it is clear that the state’s working process is not transparent, as they did not really listen to people’s voices and the public participation was just a ceremony,” Yossapon said.
“We also doubt that spending a large amount of budget is needed for these projects and we would like to invite everyone to keep an eye on the state’s budget spending on these projects.”
He said that if the BMA insisted on going ahead with these projects and did not listen to the public, he would sue the BMA in the Administrative Court.