Hundreds of Khlong Families Face Losing Homes After City Changes Project

Clothes dry Sunday over a portion of Khlong Lat Phrao to be redeveloped. Narrow walkways lining the canal will be replaced by a 1.5-meter wide road when renovation is complete in 3.5 years.

BANGKOK — Hundreds if not thousands of families living along Khlong Lat Phrao face an uncertain future after City Hall appeared to change its 1.6 billion-baht renovation plan.

When workers recently arrived to mark out the canal’s future width, residents said they realized City Hall was reneging on a previously reached agreement regarding how wide it would be, changes that would leave a number of communities with no place to live.

“We first agreed that communities could continue to live 25 meters away from the edge of the canal, but they have now marked that point as 32-meters away,” Jamras Klin-ubon, leader of the Lat Prao 45 community group, said Monday.

In February, the military government first announced it would redevelop Khlong Lat Phrao and several others to improve transportation and waterflow. Concrete berms would be erected along both sides of Khlong Lat Phrao for 22.5 kilometers, affecting more than 7,000 families.

Where permitted by the space available, an agreement was reached allowing residents to stay in shared townhomes designed by the Community Organizations Development Institute.

After different widths were approved for different parts of the canal and presented to Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, City Hall on Thursday signed a 1.6 billion baht contract with River Engineering Co., Ltd., to begin work next month.

But the project chief from the Community Organizations Development Institute said contract was written in a way that eliminated the space planned for residents.

“The width of the canal in each area was not included in the contract,” said Sayam Nonkhamchan. “The contract said it is up to City Hall to decide.”

Both community leaders and the agency representatives said they were not invited to join the contract signing ceremony and never got a chance to see the details.

The Department of Drainage and Sewerage, which is responsible for the project, has not responded to inquiries and a request to view the contract.

 

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A graphic shows the different widths of the canal as originally agreed to and submitted to Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan. Source: Community Organizations Development Institute

 

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