Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All districts in Bangkok still 'at risk'

Bangkok Post

All 50 districts in Bangkok were still at risk of flooding after a sluice gate in Khlong Sam Wa was opened to a metre-wide, Bangkok deputy governor Thirachon Manomaipiboon said on Tuesday.
Bangkok Deputy Governor Thirachon Manomaipiboon (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
The first three districts that would face the flood were Bang Kapi, Saphan Sung and Bung Kum, Mr Thirachon said.

"Previously, we thought that 19 districts might not experience flooding but now none of them will be safe," the deputy governor said.

He said authorities must take engineering into consideration and not just the road surface when managing the flood water.

"Bangkok has a total of 2,000 canals and there are many underground tunnels that are connected with each other. When the water is released to Saen Saeb canal, the water will also pass through other canals and tunnels in all 50 districts," Mr Thirachon said.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva also warned the government against rushing to declare inner Bangkok a flood-free area, saying it could cause people to relax their guard against the flood.

Some people had even begun to retrieve their belongings from high areas after listening to the announcements, the opposition leader said.

Yet water runoff from the North still threatened to expand further into districts in the west and east of the Chao Phraya River, he said.
About 500 people block Nimitmai Road in Khlong Sam Wa district to demand the Khlong Sam Wa sluice gate be opened wider, from 70cm to 1.5m on Oct 31, 2011. (Photo by Taweechai Tawatpakorn)
Bangkok was not encountering only high tides from the sea, that caused the water level in the Chao Phraya to back up and increase in the past three days, but it was also still coping with the massive amount of water from Pathum Thani and Ayutthaya.

Mr Abhisit said the government must be “more careful” in the information it gives to the public.

Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi said the flood situation in Bangkok had improved following the peak high tides on Monday.

The chief of operations of the government's Flood Relief Operation Command (Froc) said the Chao Phraya River's level had dropped by 3 or 4 cms.  If the water level continued dropping, it would be a good sign for people living along both sides of the river, he said.

"When the northern runoff flows out to sea the water level will gradually decrease, but water is still pouring into the west side [of Bangkok].

"The next most worrying time will be on Nov 15 when the tides will peak again but they won’t rise by as much as this time.

"Water has entered Bangkok and the rate of draining it out is solely dependent on the city's drainage system. At this time we're still monitoring the northern runoff," Mr Plodprasop said.

He said the overall situation in Bangkok and surrounding areas will steadily improve.

The drainage process to the east of the capital was slow due to its vast area, but the water level should not rise any higher, he said.

"The flood is not as worrying as the stagnant water, and authorities will have to tackle both issues simultaneously," Mr Plodprasop said.

When reporters asked him about cooperation between the Froc and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), he said Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra should not tell people in the capital to listen only to him, since both sides have good intentions towards the people.
Asked whether the people should listen to the Froc or the BMA, the minister said, "I am 176cm tall, but the governor's not as tall as me.
"I am taller so people have to listen to me. What do you expect my response to be?"
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