Govt faces huge test to save Bangkok from flooding Skip to main content

Govt faces huge test to save Bangkok from flooding

Will Bangkok be badly inundated in the next few days with the arrival of a huge mass of flood runoff from the North, compounded by peak high tides?
This is a simple and straightforward question which has been nagging at my mind and begging for a straightforward answer from the authorities.
If they are still unable to give a definite "yes" or "no" answer, they should at least be able to give me something along the lines of: there is more than a 50 per cent chance of flooding.
That would suffice, and I could get prepared, or even evacuate my home temporarily - to somewhere like Pattaya - if the flooding in Bangkok is as bad as it is in Ayutthaya or Nakhon Sawan.

But the remark made by Agriculture Minister Thira Wongsamut in the Senate yesterday, that even God could not predict for sure whether Bangkok would be flooded or not, was not the kind of answer I expect from a senior member of the government.
Had he been properly briefed by his ministry's officials on the situation - such as the speed and the volume of the huge flow of water heading downstream, the timing of the tides and the condition of the flood walls around Bangkok - he would have been able to provide a more sensible and satisfying answer.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has listed 13 districts as vulnerable to flooding, plus 15 points in the inner city which are also classified as vulnerable. These vulnerable points include these roads: Chan, Saint Louis, Sathupradit, Phahon Yothin from Klong Semsen to Klong Bangsue, Sukhumvit from Klong Phra Khanong to Soi La Salle, and Lat Phrao roads.

But how bad will the flood problem be? There seems to be no answer from the city administration.

Despite the uncertainty about whether Bangkok will be badly flooded, or not, many Bangkokians have chosen to take precautions rather than waiting for a "yes" or "no" answer from the authorities that may never come. They stocked up on essential supplies such as dried food and bottled water leaving many shelves in supermarkets empty. There are also many Bangkokians who appear not to be worried at all. To them, flood or not, it is business as usual.

Even if the authorities are not so sure about the severity of the flood that Bangkok may or may not face, they should be able to come up with some contingency plan and notify the public about them. For instance, to help motorists save their cars from flooding. The authorities should be know that the existing private and public car parks will not be able to accommodate all the vehicles, especially four-wheeled private sedans. So is there a plan, for example, to allow cars to be parked on the elevated expressways? And how many of them could be parked in a way which will not pose a danger to the structure of the expressways? And if there is such a plan, who will manage the parking?

Or in case of an emergency evacuation, where are the evacuation centres and how would people will be alerted for an evacuation?

The authorities have failed to predict accurately the severity of the flood, and to warn the people in advance. Several industrial estates in Ayutthaya, which house hundreds of factories, for an instance, would not have suffered the devastating damage they have had they been told accurately about the danger of flooding, as they would have taken the right precautions.

But in the case of Bangkok, the authorities, the government in particular, cannot afford to fail, to at least make public all necessary contingency plans to cope with a worst-case scenario -- even if they cannot prevent the flood itself.

http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/260806/the-government-huge-test-to-save-bangkok-from-flooding

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