SCG has united the forces of the public, private, and people sectors in the “Pracharat–Bangsue Pond Development Project” to turn the densely populated areas around Bangsue Pond into a new model of city living with improved quality of life. The project aims to uplift quality of living in four areas and become a model for: Pracharat collaboration to reduce social disparity, inner city living by optimizing space allocation and having communal recreational areas, community involvement by allowing residents to help design their own neighborhood, and pond and public park doubling as flood prevention pond as well as recreational attraction. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
H.E. General Prayuth Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister inaugurated the “Pracharat–Bangsue Pond Development Project” at Bangsue pond in Bangkok’s Chatuchak district. The project is a collaboration between the public, private, and people sectors, comprising SCG, the Government Lottery Office, the Community Organizations Development Institute, the State Railway of Thailand, Chatuchak District Office, Bureau of the Crown Property, the Agriculture and Agricultural Co-operatives Bank, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, and the Treasury Department.
“The project demonstrates the power of tri-partite collaboration between the government, private organizations, and local communities, to uplift the quality of living for residents in the densely populated communities around here. These residents are faced with problems with hygiene, safety, as well as access to public services, as they are not legally registered on the state citizen registry. The government recognizes the importance of social order so that all Thai citizens have equal access to public welfare for their basic needs. This project is a commendable example of how several sectors in our society can come together to make improvements to the living situations of grassroots people, especially by providing career opportunities and accommodation to create a better environment for the entire community,” said H.E General Prayuth.
Mr. Roongrote Rangsiyopash, President and CEO, SCG added that the project is located on 61 rai of land. A century ago, the area used to generate raw materials for SCG’s cement plant in Bangsue. Back then, the area was considered to be quite far from the city center, so SCG built accommodation for cement plant workers and their families in the surrounding areas. When the plant ceased operation in 1968, the area was then turned into a pond and public park . Several groups of people began to relocate to the area and built a large community comprising 250 households with around 1,300 residents. The area became densely populated with poor living condition. Residents have no access to basic infrastructure such as running water, electricity, waste management, or transportation access. The community was plagued with several problems.
“SCG hopes to uplift the quality of living for people in this community. Today, Bangsue is considered to be an inner city area. The large pond can be utilized for flood prevention as well as a recreational attraction for Bangkok residents. We would like to donate the land for public benefits. The power of collaboration from all the organizations involved has made this project a success from when we started in 2016. The involvement of the local residents in Bangsue Pond is also at the heart of the project’s success.”
The development plan is divided into two parts: residential accommodation development and pond and public park development. For residential accommodation, a total of 197 residential units will be built, comprising 60 town houses, 133 units in three four-story buildings, and 4 units to be allocated to elderly people with no family and no means of income. A communal area will also be developed for community activities, as well as infrastructure. The residential part of the project is expected to be completed by the year 2020. The pond and public park will then be developed. The total project investment is 600 million baht.
Mr. Roongrote added that the project is hoped to become a model for elevating the quality of life in four areas. Firstly, the project will be a model for tri-partite collaboration to decrease social disparity and increase quality of life. Secondly, the project will be a model for inner city living, where land is optimized for maximum space utilization. The project has been designed to fit the needs of people in the community. A communal area provides all residents access to facilities including a playground, a multi-purpose field, green space, and shared housing for the elderly who have health problems and are not able to secure a home loan. Terms and agreements are made to prevent future disputes when using the communal facilities. Thirdly, the project will be a model for community involvement, as residents are involved in the design process to ensure that the community serves their needs. The residential units have been designed to accommodate the number of family members. The project layout ensures fairness for everyone in terms of location, job opportunities, and personal limitations. Condominium units as well as town houses are available. A system has also been implemented to place residents in the housing units keeping in mind community relations and future management of the community. In addition, residents are also encouraged to save, so that they are able to apply for a home loan from the Community Organizations Development Institute to build their own homes. In the period of one year and eight months, the community has saved a combined 6 million baht. Fourthly, the project will be a model for a pond and public park. As the pond makes up the majority of the project land, it can be developed into an irrigation pond to prevent flooding in Bangkok. The pond can also double as a public recreational attraction where people can come to exercise or simply relax.
Several organizations have joined hands to make this project possible. The Community Organizations Development Institute provides home loans so families are able to have ownership of their homes. The Government Lottery Office has provided 200 million baht funding towards the building of the housing units, communal facilities and infrastructure. The State Railway of Thailand has allowed for its land to be leased so an access road to and from the project can be built. Chatuchak District Office has approved the construction of the project. The Bureau of the Crown Property has encouraged community involvement and promoting community strength. The Agriculture and Agricultural Co-operatives Bank provides support for the renovation of the bridge leading to the access road. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has expressed a commitment to develop the pond and public park . The Treasury Department has received the donated land plot from SCG and will be in charge of its care to ensure the project provides stability for the community for generations to come.
Mr. Somchat Parasuwan, Director of the Community Organizations Development Institute said: “The institute has led in the effort to create a new living space and improve the landscape of the area, as well as promote understanding among residents. The shared houses for the elderly will promote a caring community. The involvement of the community has given an opportunity for all to be a part of improving their quality of living and promoting the community’s strength in the future.”
“I’m very glad that several organizations have extended a helping hand and have been open to hear the opinions and needs of the residents when it comes to the project development. The project will allow residents to finally have an access road and a better quality of life. Ambulances will be able to reach here in future emergency incidents. This has given dignity to the residents and the rights they never had. They will finally have a house registration like everyone else, running water, and electricity. All these basic amenities are considered monumental for people who have had nothing,” Mrs. Nichakarn Pakanont, a resident said.
“We have set up a group. The team responsible for the design of the housing units approached us in order to design a community that incorporates the needs of all of its residents, even small things like what our children want. All they want is for their fathers to have a job and secure income. We never expected that one day, we would own a beautiful home. This is beyond our wildest dream. We are going to have a paved road, increased safety. People in our community are more aware that they need to be united and express their opinions to make our community better and stronger,” Mr. Mana Pengkasukanto, a resident concluded.
The project unites the forces of the public, private, and people sectors in driving a key agenda of the government to decrease social disparity and increase the quality of living for all Thais. The project will be a model for other community development efforts in the future, taking into consideration the needs and lifestyles of residents especially in inner city areas.