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Recovery from Thai floods lagging

Publication Date : 06-09-2012


Industrial complexes in Thailand that were severely damaged by last year's flood still have many hurdles to clear, though progress has been made on construction of anti-flood dikes.

With the start of rainy season looming in the country, some dikes have been completed, but in other complexes such projects have just begun.

Over 80 per cent of the plants in industrial complexes have restarted production, but about one-third of those have only been able to partially resume operations.

Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate, one of seven industrial complexes flooded last year, hosts many Japanese-affiliated companies. The main portion of its anti-flood dike was completed in late August.

The 20.6-kilometre concrete dike surrounds the entire complex.

The dike stands 5.5 metres above sea level, which is one metre higher than the maximum water level seen during last year's flooding.

On August 10, a ceremony to celebrate the construction and also to test the dike's capacity was held at the industrial complex.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra attended the celebration and said: "The preparations for future floods are ideal. I'll take further action to gain the trust of companies [to start production in the complex]."

Rojana Industrial Park accommodates plants of such Japanese companies as Honda Motor Co. and Nikon Corp. A 77.6-kilometre anti-flood dike was almost completed there this month.

The dike's total construction cost is 2.17 billion baht (US$69.4 million).

In other industrial complexes, 70 per cent to 80 per cent of anti-flood projects have been completed.

However, in Saha Rattana Nakorn Industrial Estate, which was the first to go under in last year's flood, anti-flood efforts have been delayed because the estate's operating company is undergoing business rehabilitation.

At the complex, construction of a temporary dike made of soil just began in late August.

An official of one company in the industrial complex said: "If a flood occurs again, the soil dike won't prevent damage. We have to monitor water levels on our own to be able to take countermeasures as quickly as possible."

According to the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand, as of August 27, 684 plants, or 81.5 per cent, of 839 in the seven industrial complexes had resumed operations.

One plant was told by a client it would not place future orders with the plant as long as the facility was located in the flood-prone region.

Such incidents have led to an increasing number of affected companies and plants asking the Thai government to take more drastic actions to resolve the issue.

The Thai government is considering such measures as revising water-control and management plans of major dams, restoring and improving existing dikes and water channels, and developing systems to prevent floods and issue flood warnings.

However, the Thai government said all these proposed measures are mid- and long-term efforts.


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