Bangkok Visit Regarding ACHR Density Study

22 December 2009: (Tuesday)

0745 hours:     Arrived in Bangkok from Karachi.

1400 hours:     Meetings at ACHR office with Somsook, Maurice, Density Research Team consisting of Lee, Mark, Ae, Senam and Kate

  • Discussions on objectives of the meeting and the study. So far studies in CODI have been mainly on affordability. This study will be on the relationship of density with social, economic, location, tenure, rental and developer related issues.
  • Decisions on settlements to be studied. All will be in Bangkok. They will be CODI, NHA, developer developed and slums so that these can be compared.
  • Decisions taken on six settlements to be visited for an initial investigation on 23 and 24 December 2009.
  • NHA density 900 persons per hectare (150 units per hectare at 6 persons per hectare). Government shop houses 48 meter square minimum.
  • Major differences between Karachi and Bangkok discussed. In Bangkok majority of slums are small settlements on Crown or private land, they pay rentals. Karachi has huge settlements on government land with de-fecto tenure security. Much smaller families than South Asia in Thailand. No grandparents issue,
  • Discussion on how these studies can be used to promote a new vision for housing in Asia, a new curriculum for architecture/planning/law and other academic disciplines.
  • Decision taken to integrate these studies with the ACHR Understanding Asian Cities Programme, maybe with IIED involvement. Other cities that can be studied/should be are Khatmandu and Manila.

1700 hours:     Meeting with Tom Kerr and Maurice on ACHR affairs, Understanding Asian Cities Project and gossip.

2030 hours:     Back at Hotel

23 December 2009: (Wednesday)

0930 hours:     Picked up from Hotel by Senam and Kate to visit settlements

1000 hours:     SUANPLU Settlement

  • CODI Project. Was a “slum” settlement on government land consisting of 1,200 families on six Rai (1-1/2 hectares). 500 households choose NHA flats and 264 choose houses.
  • Where a family was large (like with grown up daughter) a flat was also offered to the family in addition to a house. This and affordability issues explains the lager number of flats chosen. More clarity required.
  • Present houses smaller than before but they are theirs’ so it is okay.
  • People interviewed prefer houses for they can carry out economic activity there. Also, a flat is too small 5 m x 5.5 m but it is cheaper 1200 – 1300 Baht per month for 15 years as opposed to a house which is 1500 – 1900 Baht per month depending on its size.
  • People work in trade, as construction labour, hawkers.
  • Some people cannot pay instalments or do not wish to pay. There are about 90 such families. Also only about 30 persons come to meetings. Unemployment is also an increasing problem. Savings process is okay.
  • NHA flats in the neighbourhood are 36 meter square.
  • The settlement is in the centre of a Bangkok CBD. That poor people can still live there is a great achievement.

1200 hours:     WAT PRAYAKAI

  • The total “slum” consisted of 340 houses. A fire 4 years ago burnt down 40 houses. A CODI flat project built flats for 80 families (40 fire attacked ones plus another 40) on 2 Rai.
  • People preferred houses to flats but according to regulations 80 flats could not be built on 2 Rai. The rest of the “slum” is not interested in a CODI project for it is on Crown land and they pay only an average 150 Baht per month as rent.
  • Average earning Baht 10,000 per month per family. Some earn only Baht 5,000. For these the committee has agreed to extend their loan period to 30 (instead of 15 years) and charge them 1,000 Baht per month instead of 2,500 Baht per month (minus cost of water and electricity).
  • While construction was taking place, they lived in rented houses.
  • This land is in an expensive area. Neighbourhood apartments built by developers sell at 3 million Baht. The collective land ownership arrangement prevents speculations of the CODI project.
  • People living in the original slum do not wish to live in flats since they carry out businesses in their houses.
  • The community leader (owner of a flat in the CODI scheme) says that flat life is not suitable for them. It destroys community feelings and social communication.
  • The area around the Site has a lot of Crown properties. They are low-rise shop houses and the rents are cheap. What will be their future?
  • This is really a middle class settlement. Owner of flats are white-collar workers. Flats make them more middle class.

1430 hours:     LALPACHEE

  • A CODI Project
  • Moved from private land on which they lived for 39 years because the owner wanted the land back. He compensated them and with that and a CODI loan they got this 3-1/2 Rai plot.
  • The Project has 79 houses and a community centre. Number of persons per house varies from 4 to 10.
  • The people choose to build houses (not flats) because many households do economic activity in their homes and also houses are more appropriate to their way of life.
  • Earnings average 12,000 Baht per month per family. 50 per cent are labourers. Others hawkers, taxi drivers.
  • Instalment Baht 2,000 per month (minus cost of utilities) for 15 years. Some members find this unaffordable.
  • Before they had more space in their “slum” homes and rent was about 300 Baht but they were insecure as the house was not their own.
  • Community leader feels that there should be different options (sizes and fundamental packages) depending on people’s ability to pay.

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