Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bangkok water gates not fully opened: Governor

Bangkok water gates not fully opened: Governor

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra yesterday denied that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) had opened watergates fully to allow flood water to flow through the capital to the sea.

In response to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's move to use the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Act 2007 and order for the BMA to open watergates so that flood water can be let through to the sea, Sukhumbhand said the government had not notified the BMA to open watergates 100 per cent but had let the agency exercise its own judgement.

He said the BMA has already fully opened watergates, especially when more than 100mm of rain had fallen.

Sukhumbhand expressed concern about the rising flood level in areas such as Klong Hok Wa in Sai Mai, Klong Maha Sawat in Thon Buri, Phaholyothin Road and some parts of eastern Bangkok.

The governor cancelled an appointment and went straight to Siriraj Hospital when he was told that some leaks were found at the hospital and water had been retained in some spots.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday called on Bangkok residents to brace for flooding with the level of flood water ranging from 50cm to over one metre depending on whether areas are low-lying.

Yingluck dismissed Scicence Minister Plodprasop Suraswadee's comment that Bangkok would be fully inundated, saying that would take place only if things got out of control and every embankment was broken. "We cannot stop the flood waters from flowing - it is a great flood - but we are trying to slow the currents down to reduce the extent of the damage."

She said only some areas which were waterways or areas where flood water would be discharged faced higher risks of flooding, such as areas below Chualongkorn watergate, which was heavily loaded with water.

"We have engineers checking the strength of the dam. The dam is still strong, but there is a chance that flood water will overflow the dam. So people living below the dam must be on alert," she said.

Asked what was the chance of thing getting out of control, Yingluck said as long as every party gave full cooperation, the government would have control at one level.

She said the difficulty the government had in trying to solve flood problems was geography. Efforts to drain water out to the sea via east and western Bangkok was an uphill battles, especially the eastern side, because the area was high and more powerful water pumps were needed. The effort to discharge water via western Bangkok was also not effective because the area was also high and the waters remaine at Klong Prem Prachakorn. "If we cannot manage this, the water will overflow and flood Bangkok," she warned.

And draining a huge volume of water, it was normal that some would overflow. "If too much water is being discharged, embankments collpase, the level of flood water will be high. It is best that everyone is prepared - but not to panic and hoard goods."

She apologised to people in heavily flooded areas of the capital for the government's failure to issue a flood warning in time, saying it is hard to predict because many factors were beyond control. "If we issue too early warning, we could cause panic," she said.
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