The market had long been spread out along the footpaths on Padung Krungkasem Canal in the heart of Bangkok, but stall vendors earlier this year were forced to stop trading as the BMA ruled they could no longer occupy public walkways. That decision led to a clash between police officers and vendors - and an ongoing dispute.
In a bid to resolve the conflict, the BMA and relevant authorities including the Metropolitan Police Bureau, the Social Development and Human Security Ministry and the Association of Siamese Architects under the Royal Patronage of His Majesty the King have met to explore possible solutions.
"From various alternatives, we believe the proposal to move Bo Bae market underground is the most feasible," Deputy Bangkok City Clerk Anan Siripassaraporn said yesterday.
He said this proposal was about digging a tunnel in the area where the Bo Bae market was once located and allow the vendors to place their stalls in the tunnel.
"The Association of Siam Architects has said this proposal is possible," Anan said.
Anan said it would take about one or two years to conduct a full feasibility study of the project to dig a tunnel along the Padung Krung-kasem Canal taking into account all environmental implications and safety concerns. "This project could cost about Bt1 billion," he added. "We have to proceed carefully."
According to Anan, the vendors will be allowed to run their stalls temporarily in the meanwhile on the footpath along the Padung Krung-kasem Canal opposite the Social Development and Human Security Ministry pending the outcome of the feasibility study into the tunnel project.
However, Anan said they could only open their stalls between 9am and 3pm, and from midnight to 4am along the footpath on the Padung Krungkasem Canal's shoulder.
"The vendors who will be allowed to resume their trade must have registered with the Pom Prab District Office before and they must be a member of the Bo Bae Cooperative," Anan said.
He had already informed the representatives of the Bo Bae vendors, who asked for one week to discuss the matter.
"If they agree with the proposal, we will inform Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont of our plan and allow the vendors to resume their business right away," Anan added.