Wednesday, November 2, 2011

BMA puts entire capital on alert Governor issues order to repair sluice gate

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra has given himself wide-ranging control over flood operations in the city and will send council workers backed by police to repair the controversial Khlong Sam Wa sluice gate.
Race is on to protect estate Workers at Bang Chan Industrial Estate in Min Buri district in the east of Bangkok race against time to move belongings to safety as well as stack sandbags to prevent flooding as water runoff threatens the estate after the sluice gate at Khlong SamWa was opened wider to release floodwater from inundated communities. PATTARACHAI PREECHAPANICH
MR Sukhumbhand's dramatic move last night is in defiance of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's order for the BMA to widen the sluice gate to one metre. She took the action after nearby residents destroyed part of the sluice gate under the eye of police to speed up the drainage of their communities.
The governor said he was using an order under the disaster prevention law which stipulates that he is the director of disaster management in Bangkok. It means he can send metropolitan police to Khlong Sam Wa sluice gate to maintain order and prevent further demolition.
Women hang on to the side of a four-wheel drive vehicle to get to work at the government complex on Chaeng Watthana road. RATTASEEMA PONGSAN
The penalty for defying the police and obstructing the workers is three months in jail and/or a 6,000 baht fine.
See also: Residents continue to fight authorities
MR Sukhumbhand said the gate might collapse if it was not repaired and that would cause massive flood damage to communities along Ram Intra and Ram Khamhaeng Road.
Meanwhile, Deputy Governor Thirachon Manomaipiboon said all 50 districts in Bangkok are at risk of flooding as a result of the Khlong Sam Wa incident.
He said the first three districts in Bangkok that would likely face the incoming deluge are Bang Kapi, Saphan Sung and Bung Kum.
On Monday, Mr Thirachon said 19 districts would likely be spared as the drainage to the east was working well.
"Previously, we thought that 19 districts might not experience flooding, but now none of them is safe," he said.
Prime Minister Yingluck on Monday ordered the BMA to widen the sluice gate to one metre after an angry protest.
Police officers speak through a bullhorn to urge people in Setthakij housing estate to evacuate due to rising floodwaters in Bang Kae district yesterday. PHONGTHAI WATTANAVANITVUT
"Bangkok has 2,000 canals and there are many underground tunnels that are connected with each other. When the water is released to Saen Saep canal, it will pass through all 50 districts," Mr Thirachon said.
MR Sukhumbhand yesterday declared evacuation of the entire district of Bang Khen, Sena Niwet housing estate Project II, Jarakhae Bua sub-district of Lat Phrao district and Sam Wa Tawan Ok sub-district of Klong Sam Wa.
Sai Kong Din and Kong Din Tai sub-districts of Klong Sam Wa and the entire district of Nong Chok have also been placed under close watch, he said.
The governor said Bang Chan sub-district of Klong Sam Wa district is also under close watch and could be a flood risk area.
He said he had received reports from the Flood Relief Operations Command (Froc) that it still could not close sluice gates at Khlong 8 and Khlong 10 because of fierce resistance from residents in nearby inundated communities.
If the gates could not be closed, the flow of water will affect Nong Chok, Min Buri, Lat Krabang, Khlong Saen Saep and Khlong Lam Pathiew.
A woman climbs into a truck used to transport state officials to the government complex on Chaeng Watthana road. RATTASEEMA PONGSAN
MR Sukhumbhand said the situation in western Bangkok was uncertain as floods have continued to spread, with a substantial volume of runoff from Nakhon Pathom.
He said drainage efforts with pumps must be increased as the runoff capacity in the west could not compare to that of the east.
Sanya Cheenimitr, director of the BMA's Drainage and Sewerage Department, said overflow from Khlong Maha Sawat had already surged into western areas.
Khlong Pasi Charoen serves as a major channel draining runoff into canal networks and out to the Chao Phraya River.
Mr Sanya said the BMA has asked the Froc to make the most of drainage systems in Krathum Baen district of Samut Sakhon.
He said the BMA is racing to build and reinforce flood barriers in Thon Buri and is using water pumps to drain more than 100 cubic metres of water per second.
Froc spokesman Thongthong Chandarangsu said water in Ayutthaya was receding and this was a good sign for Bangkok.
Mr Thongthong said people should come to terms with the fact that some of the water mass from Pathum Thani will flow into Bangkok.
A One-Two-Go airline plane sits on the flooded tarmac at Don Mueang airport. The Defence Ministry plans to drain water from the airport this week. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
Far fewer people come to observe the latest lottery draw at the Government Lottery Office yesterday. The floods have made it difficult for many city residents to get about. CHANAT KATANYU
Rats escaping the floodwater crowd together underneath the elevated tollway in Laksi district. THITI WANNAMONTHA