River security enhanced for Royal Cremation

Marine Department head Sornsak Saensombat discusses safety measures to control Chao Phraya River traffic during the royal funeral rites for the late King. Apichart Jinakul

The Marine Department has drawn up measures to boost security on the Chao Phraya River during the royal funeral rites for the late King next month.

Department director-general Sornsak Saensombat said security measures during the Oct 25-27 cremation rites at Sanam Luang are needed because about 60,000 people are expected to travel by road and boat to the events each day, he said.

The department, which is responsible for providing river security, has declared a section of the Chao Phraya a restricted area during the ceremonies from noon to 9pm on Oct 25, from 6am to 11pm on Oct 26, and from 8am to 2pm on Oct 27, Mr Sornsak said.

The restricted stretch starts at Krung Thon Bridge in the north and ends at King Taksin Bridge in the south, he said.

During the specified periods, the stretch will be off-limits to ocean liners, tugboats, and vessels carrying dangerous cargoes.

All vessels except those belonging to state agencies involved in the royal cremation ceremonies will not be allowed to lay at anchor in the restricted area, Mr Sornsak said.

Most river traffic between these two major bridges will be banned.

The Chao Phraya Express Boat has been asked not to stop at Tha Chang, Tha Phra Arthit and Tha Rajinee piers temporarily, but stop at Thewes pier in the northern part of the river and Talad Yodpimarn in the south instead.

Ferries operating from Phra Chan Nuea, Maharaj, Tha Chang piers have been asked to use Pinklao pier on the Bangkok side of the river while ferries which operate from Tha Tian pier will use Rajinee pier instead.

Tourist boats will use Pinklao pier on the Bangkok side of the river as well as Rajinee pier, Mr Sornsak said.

He also said the Marine Department, the Thai Boats Association, and passenger boat operators will provide free boat services for people wishing to attend the royal cremation ceremonies.

Services will be from 9am to 4pm on Oct 25-26, and from 10am to 3pm on Oct 27.

The free boat services will be available from three piers in the northern part of the river -- the Commerce Ministry pier, the Nonthaburi pier and the Rama VIII Bridge pier.

In the southern stretch of the river, the services will run from Sathorn pier and Tha Pimarn pier, Mr Sornsak said.

He also said the department will have 230 officials, and volunteers on hand to man 67 piers along the Chao Phraya, while a fleet of 11 patrol boats will be stationed at 10 locations along the river to ensure security and safety during the ceremonies.

The department will also set up a command centre to supervise the security operation, Mr Sornsak said.

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