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Thai military asked to retain floodwater to ease traffic mayhem

Publication Date : 25-09-2012


The Transport Ministry has floated the idea of having two Bangkok military facilities retain flood water temporarily so commuters can be spared traffic nightmares like those last week.

Downpours submerged many roads, leaving hundreds of thousands of people stuck for hours in gridlock.

Deputy Transport Minister Chatchart Sithipan said yesterday that Defence Minister Sukampol Suwannathat had been contacted about the plan to use the Army's 2nd Cavalry Division (King's Guards) base and the Dhupateme Air Force Sports Stadium.

"We will ask them to keep water in their areas during downpours. We have found that Vibhavadi-Rangsit and Phaholyothin roads get swamped because all the agencies along them rush to push rainwater out of their compounds," Chatchart said.

These military units will be requested to lower the level of large ponds and then store rainwater there after cloudbursts.

Transport Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan will talk tomorrow with authorities about solutions to traffic problems in Greater Bangkok, he said.

"The meeting will develop the implementation plan, which will be forwarded to the prime minister within seven days," he said.

Thanawat Jarupongsakul of Chulalongkorn University told a seminar that Bangkok would likely see torrential rain this weekend between Saturday and Monday.

Working for the science faculty's unit for disaster and land information studies, Thanawat believes the best way for Bangkok to avoid a flood disaster this year is to drain most of the water out of its canals.

"There is a very high risk that storms will hit the country in the next two months," he said.

Low-pressure ridges have stagnated over the country for longer than usual, making it impossible for storms to come in so far this year.

"But this means the Central region will get hit by a few storms around October and November just like in 1990, 1996 and 2006," he said.

Bangkok's flood risk this year will be from storms, not run-off from the upper part of the country, he added.

Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra told the media that the heavy rainfall in the capital from September 4-23 produced 444 million cubic metres of water, or about half of the Pasak Jolasid reservoir.

He said he was impressed with the city's ability to drain all water out of major roads within a few hours of such heavy rain.

However, he offered his apology to areas that stayed flooded longer.

"If the rain is over 60 millimetres per day, it will take time to remove the water," he said.

The Office of the National Water and Flood Management Policy reported that 44 provinces, including Bangkok, Phitsanulok and Prachin Buri, were at risk.

In Phitsanulok, flood waters were nearly 2 metres high at some spots.

In Prachin Buri, many villages were inundated and several roads were made impassable to small vehicles. In Kabin Buri district alone, more than 108 roads were damaged and 12 schools had to close.

The Public Health Ministry warned people against drinking alcohol while half-soaked. Inebriation is blamed for 30 per cent of drowning fatalities during floods, Deputy Public Health Minister Surawit Khonsomboon said.


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