As part of the 400th years relation of Denmark-Thailand, the Royal Danish embassy released a historical memo on 7 April 2021, as follows:
Did you know that Denmark played a big role in the infrastructure development on Bangkok rivers and canals?
After the Danes Andreas du Plessis de Richelieu and Aage Westenholz had set up the first ever tram system in Bangkok in 1888, Westenholz had a vision to further develop the infrastructure of the city.
At the time local Siamese ferries sailed across the river from pier to pier, but it was Westenholz’ contribution to the infrastructure to start sailing up and down the Chao Phraya River. He established the Maenam Motorboat Company in 1906, which operated scheduled passenger boat routes (synchronized with the tram system) from Klong Toey to Nonthaburi.
The company kick-started the commercial traffic on the water and two years into operations the company’s fleet consisted of 10 motor boats and 2 steam launches, which were crisscrossing the river and the canals. The Maenam Motorboat Company was in business up until World War II.
To this very day, Denmark still plays a significant role in the river traffic of Bangkok. To meet increasing demand and to help reduce pollution, the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority has recently introduced Thailand’s first fleet of fully electric passenger ferries on the Chao Phraya River.
As an important part of this ambitious plan to promote and increase alternative energy sources for transport in Thailand, Danish company Danfoss is delivering the electric drivetrain systems for the new ferries as well as installing fast-charging stations dockside.
As such, Denmark still impacts daily routine life on the waters of Bangkok – just as it was the case more than 110 years ago.