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More heat on Bangkok authorities as flood problems mount
Publication Date : 21-09-2012
More than 235,000 people across Thailand have been struggling with floods, according to the latest updates from the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department.
Bangkok residents were not officially recognised as flood victims but in the wake of heavy rain, hundreds of thousand of them were stuck in bad traffic as floodwater swamped the surface of many roads in the Din Daeng, Ram-Indra, Huai Kwang, Ratchadaphisek and Rama VI areas last night.
Speaking before last night's flood woes, Deputy government spokesman Anusorn Lamsa-ard yesterday attacked the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) for failing to keep the city's roads dry on several days over the past week. He said at least 29 Bangkok roads were flooded, paralysing traffic and affecting hundreds of thousands of city residents.
"The Bangkok governor and his deputies should have done better," Anusorn said, adding that the BMA's explanation about the flooding being temporary and that it had been caused by heavy downpours was just not acceptable.
"You have to manage the situation better. The Bangkok governor has often said that the capital's water-drainage system is designed to deal with rainfall, not upstream run-off. But see what is happening in Bangkok now."
Anusorn was speaking one day after Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra publicly questioned BMA's efficiency in water management.
Meanwhile, Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra yesterday inspected a pump station in the capital and was said to be working closely with the Royal Irrigation Department to control the water situation in the capital.
In a related development, a House committee on science and technology yesterday summoned relevant officials to provide information on water-management and flood-prevention plans.
During the session, the panel's chairman Samut Prakan MP Prasert Chaikijdennapalai questioned why Bangkok's giant water-drainage tunnels only appeared to be working at 70 per cent of their capacity.
"Are these tunnels worth the huge sums spent on them?" he asked.
Prasert hails from the ruling Pheu Thai Party, while opposition Democrat Party member Sukhumbhand leads the BMA.
Speaking before the House committee, Sanya Sheenimit - the chief of the BMA's Drainage and Sewerage Department - said his office had already prepared water-drainage tunnels, pumps and ponds to deal with rainfall and prevent flooding.
"If water reaches the tunnels, it will be drained away very quickly," he insisted.
Sanya also explained that the total rainfall in Bangkok between September 14 and 16 stood at 382 millimetres, while Bangkok's water-drainage system was designed to accommodate just 60 millimetres of rainfall each day.
"This means that when it rains really hard, it will take a few hours to drain out the water," he said.
Speaking separately, Deputy Bangkok Governor Vallop Suwandee called on central government officials to inspect the capital's giant water-drainage tunnels for themselves.
Sa Kaew province appeared to be bearing the brunt of the disaster yesterday as thousands of students struggled through floodwaters well over 2 metres high. The Office of the National Water and Flood Management Policy (ONWFMP) announced that the situation was "severe".
Locals in 11 remote border villages in Aranyaprathet district's Tambon Takham complained that they had to scrape by without very much to eat or drink before flood-relief finally arrived yesterday.
When the team led by Colonel Prawee Chakrabhand from the Burapha Force's 12th Ranger Taskforce arrived with relief items, the locals expressed strong - if mixed - emotions. Some were overjoyed to finally get some help, while others were resentful that they had been left on their own for days.
Floods first hit Sa Kaew on Monday, and Governor Sanit Naksuksri said he had mobilised more than 500 rescue workers, soldiers and policemen to help those affected.
According to the ONWFMP, the situation in the province is worse than in 15 other disaster-hit provinces, where the situation was described as "moderate or minor". These provinces are Ang Thong, Suphan Buri, Phichit, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Chai Nat, Chon Buri, Saraburi, Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Pathom, Pathum Thani, Prachin Buri, Nakhon Sawan, Nakhon Nayok and Ayutthaya.