Construction of government housing for nearly 100,000 people facing eviction was ordered accelerated this week to “erase” Bangkok’s Khlong Toei community, where most residents remain in the dark as to when they will be forced out.
After visiting the so-called slum community Wednesday, a deputy transportation minister ordered the Port Authority to move up by two years construction of four 25-story condo towers that are meant to house a portion of the roughly 15,000 families that will be evicted to make way for a new mega mall.
“I’m setting a deadline that, by 2020, the term ‘Khlong Toei slum’ must be erased from Thai people’s minds. We must transform it into Khlong Toei community or Khlong Toei village instead,” Deputy Transport Minister Atirat Ratanasate told reporters.
He said the government is currently talking to residents about the development plans.
As we reported last week, community residents, many of whom were born there, complain they’ve been excluded from the discussion and, denied information, have settled into a slow-burning dread.
Khlong Toei community organizer Garat “Duang” Peumrab – who often works as a go-between with bureaucrats and residents – told Coconuts Bangkok this afternoon that no additional information has been provided.
Hear from the residents themselves in our audio story about Khlong Toei
“Yeah, I heard what [the deputy transportation minister] said, but the residents haven’t been told anything,” he said. He added that they remain as clueless about when they will be evicted as they did several weeks ago when a number of them confronted Port Authority officials at a meeting.
The condos, to be built several kilometers away down Rama IV Road, was one of three options floated to residents. The other two involved giving them small undeveloped pieces of land on the outskirts of town or an undisclosed cash payout.
Bidding for construction of the condos, euphemistically dubbed a “smart community” by the authorities, was set to take place next year, with completion originally set for 2022.
The authority said it will plan spend THB7.5 billion (US$243 million) to build 6,144 identical units, all exactly 33 square meters. That’s another point of contention for residents who often live together in families as large as seven or eight.
Learn more about Khlong Toei: