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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    28 September  2012

Central, south Thailand regions warned of more floods


Meteorological officials are warning of flooding in the central region and the south, with heavy rain continuing for the next two days or so.

Similar to the situation in Bangkok, roads were inundated in Phuket town yesterday, with flood waters ranging from 50-100 centimetres high at the Patong Hospital intersection. The Loma intersection and some portions of Thavevong and Sainamyen roads were also flooded.

"The southern provinces along the Andaman Sea will see more rain and downpours until early October," Wanchai Sak-udomchai, head of the weather bureau in Songkhla, said yesterday.

Residents of areas prone to flooding and landslides must be on the alert, Wanchai said.

In Bangkok, officials were waiting to hear from the Meteorological Department as to whether rainfall in the capital would increase tenfold over the next five days as suggested by some forecasts.

"If the rainfall will really be that huge, we will have to be ready for what will happen," said Sanya Sheenimit, the head of Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) Drainage and Sewerage Department. He explained that the capital's drainage system could accommodate just 60 millimetres of rainfall per day.

Statistics show that rainfall in Bangkok this month alone has been the highest in 50 years, with more than 130mm recorded in some parts of the city in one day.

Science Minister Plodprasob Surassawadee, the chairman of the Water and Flood Management Commission, chastised the BMA for failing to prevent the floods.

Bangkok roads have turned into rivers in the past few weeks after hours-long downpours. Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road has been especially susceptible to flooding.

"It is necessary that relevant authorities urgently dredge the sewage pipes and improve the drainage network," Plodprasob said.

Speaking in his capacity as a Bangkok MP, Information and Communications Technology Minister Anudith Nakornthap said he suspected that many of the city's main and secondary roads were inundated because the BMA had failed to complete the dredging of sewers.

According to the BMA Drainage and Sewerage Department, dredging operations under BMA supervision were 85.15 per cent complete as of July 20. On the same day, the Corrections Department said it had completed its assigned dredging.

"The government has allocated a budget of 1.96 billion baht (US$63.2 million) to the BMA for this purpose. So why hasn't it completed its task?" Anudith said.

He said all areas covered by the Corrections Department's dredging were not flooded by downpours, except the Phra Pipit intersection, where sewer pipes are small.

"The problem is not clogged pipes," he said.

Intanon Jannilla, an engineer at Srinakharinwirot University on Sukhumvit Soi 23, said the campus faced flooding whenever there was heavy rain for more than an hour.

"The university has dredged its pipes but the BMA has not. We have now contacted the BMA for help in dredging the sewer pipes on Soi 23 and nearby areas," he said.

Anudith said he did not believe the BMA's claim that it had already dredged the sewers because policemen and the Corrections Department found many empty bags with the BMA emblem in the pipes in areas to be covered by the city administration's dredging.
"Those bags were sandbags that the BMA used during last year's flood crisis," he said. "Clearly, the BMA has not yet dredged all the pipes assigned to it."
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lt-General Khamronwit Thoopkrajang instructed residents of areas needing drains cleaned to contact the Corrections Department.
"The department can provide inmates for the operations. We have to focus on roads repeatedly hit by flood water such as Ratchadaphisek, Sri Ayutthaya and Samsen," he said.
Flooding is a major concern in many provinces. In Ranong, residents of 84 villages have been warned of flash floods and mudslides over the next few days.
In Ayutthaya, a flood drill was conducted at the Saha Rattana Nakorn Industrial Estate, which was hit hard by flooding last year.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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