The Port Authority of Thailand to Build Condos for the poor

The Port Authority of Thailand (PAT) will spend 7.5 billion baht to build 6,144 condominium units at Soi Trimitr on Rama IV Road for 26 slum communities that encroach on PAT land spanning nearly 200 rai in Klong Toey district.

According to Deputy Transport Minister Pailin Chuchottaworn, this is the first PAT project to tackle the slums. Pilot projects by other government agencies are coping with similar issues.

“As the project is near the suspended Pak Nam railway, the ministry will procure a tram to take people living in the project to the Klong Toey MRT station or the Rama IV area, once complete,” Mr Pailin said at Wednesday’s opening ceremony for the project.

The project will be located on 58 rai of Soi Trimitr, Rama IV Road in Phra Khanong subdistrict near Thang Rotfai Sai Kao Pak Nam Road, where the Tanning Organization was located.

The project comprises four 25-storey residential towers with a total of 6,144 units. Each tower will have 1,536 units, each sized 33 square metres. The first to fifth floors will be for common areas and car parking, and the sixth to 25th floors will be for units.

The project’s site will also include office spaces for rent, an area for the Klong Toey District Office, a car park building, an area for a market or community mall, spaces for a school, foundation and police station, as well as shops for rent.

“We will develop it as a smart community with universal design to raise the living standards of people who now live in the Klong Toey community,” said Lt Jg Kamolsak Promprayoon, the PAT’s deputy director-general for asset management and business development.

The PAT will also ask PTT Exploration and Production Plc to invest in the renovation of the tracks, which will be done by the State Railway of Thailand.

He said the condo units will support not only the 26 communities on PAT land, but also five communities living under the expressways. Altogether they contain about 12,500 households, with 12,000 from the 26 communities and 500 under the expressways.

Bidding for construction will take place in 2020, and construction will start in the same year. Completion is scheduled for 2022. The PAT will design the project and get an environmental impact assessment report done.

The PAT will start doing a census on the communities, spread understanding about relocation and conduct a survey, all of which will take six months to complete.

Apart from moving to a 33-sq-m condo unit, the PAT will offer two other options to the slum dwellers. One will be a 19.5-square-wah vacant plot worth 200,000 baht near Keha Nong Chok in Nong Chok district, where people will need to build houses themselves.

On the Nong Chok land, the PAT has prepared a total of 2,140 plots to choose from. The total area is 214 rai that the PAT purchased in 1994 for 3,500 baht per sq w and spent an additional 3,000 baht per sq w to develop facilities on.

Both condos and the land will be given free of charge, but condos may have a monthly fee for common area services. Choosing either of them will come with a right of use that can be inherited, but not a title deed.

Another choice is a cash handout, as some may prefer to go back to their hometowns, Lt Jg Kamolsak said.

“From talks, the communities have agreed to a variety of choices,” he said. “Relocating all of them from our land is not an easy task, and up to 10 years will be needed to complete it.”

According to information from the PAT, the first community encroached and illegally settled on the authority’s Klong Toey land in 1967. Unofficial discussions on relocation were regularly done until 1991, when a fire at a chemical warehouse caused damage to 489 houses.

The PAT then joined the National Authority of Thailand to build 480 apartments in the Watcharapol area to replace the damaged houses and offered them a 19.5-sq-w plot in the same location.

The PAT has a total of 2,353 rai in the Klong Toey area. Of this amount, about 1,000 rai is used by the PAT.

A total of 200 rai is encroached on by the 26 communities.

Some 65 rai of the PAT land is used free of charge by six government agencies, some of which the PAT is trying to retrieve.

The PAT generates around 5 billion baht in income each year from 900 rai rented by the Customs Department.

“We are conducting a master plan to develop the remaining lands and the lands we are getting back,” Lt Jg Kamolsak said.