His Majesty the King has taken a boat ride on the Chao Phraya River to open two bridges and a flood gate in Samut Prakan in his first river journey since he was admitted to Siriraj Hospital in September last year.
The Bhumibol 1 and 2 bridges are illuminated by a show of fireworks to mark their official inauguration yesterday by His Majesty the King. NATTHITI AMPRIWAN INSET The King is accompanied by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn as he travels on a royal boat, Angsana , to preside over the opening of the bridges. SAROT MEKSOPHAWANNAKUL
His Majesty was accompanied by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn as he sat on the foredeck of the royal vessel, Angsana, during the 90-minute trip down the river. The royal trip was organised for the King to inaugurate the two suspension bridges and the flood gate on a canal beneath them.
The King initiated the bridges and flood gate to help alleviate traffic problems in Samut Prakan and to help ease the annual flooding of the Chao Phraya River's lower reaches.
Construction of the two bridges _ Bhumibol 1 and Bhumibol 2 _ named after the King began in 1995 before being opened unofficially to traffic in 2006 as part of a 13km industrial ring road.
Bhumibol Bridge 1 links Bangkok with the industrial zones in Samut Prakan while Bhumibol 2 links Phra Pradaeng with the Samrong Tai area, also in Samut Prakan.
The two bridges have helped ease traffic in surrounding areas by serving as a city bypass for heavy trucks.
The 500 million baht flood gate, named after a local canal, Khlong Lad Pho, was built with the aim of easing flooding in areas along the river in Bangkok, Samut Prakan's Phra Pradaeng district, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi.
His Majesty the King marvels at the view alongtheChaoPhraya River as Her Royal Highness Princess MahaChakri Sirindhorn takes a photograph. His Majesty travelled on aroyal boat to preside over the opening of Bhumibol 1 and 2 bridges yesterday.
Small turbines have been installed at the flood gate to tap power from the water flow to generate electricity.
The King arrived at the project site about 6pm to a welcome from thousands of well-wishers. He pressed a button on board the royal vessel to open the bridges and the flood gate after a 40-minute light-and-sound show which ended with a spectacular fireworks display.
Jakkaphan Chaiyapin, 23, a disabled Phra Pradaeng resident, said he travelled in a wheelchair alone from his home to the Khlong Lad Pho health park, located under the Bhumibol bridges, just to catch a glimpse of the King.
"I am delighted. This is the first time I have been able to welcome the King," he said.
Phatsaree Kanchan, another Samut Prakan resident who was accompanied by her 7-year-old twin daughters, said many people were excited to get the chance to witness the royal function. Some arrived as early as midday to secure a spot along the river.
His Majesty zeroes his camera in on the bridges that bear his name. APICHART JINAKUL
"I feel great being part of a royal activity," she said.
Kasin Kolthanakul, 70, was similarly overjoyed.
"Phra Pradaeng residents feel very happy that the King has come here. I have seen him before only on television," he said, adding he wished His Majesty a speedy recovery.
The royal boat, Angsana, glides serenely down the Chao Phraya. SAROT MEKSOPHAWANNAKUL
Amanin traditional costume holds a flag bearing a royal emblemand the national flag. SAROT MEKSOPHAWANNAKUL
His Majesty’s subjects wave excitedly as the King approaches. SAROT MEKSOPHAWANNAKUL
Crowds of people eagerly await His Majesty underneath the bridge. SAROT MEKSOPHAWANNAKUL
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