The so-called "big bag" barrier is expected to ease flooding in Bangkok's northern districts, albeit at the cost of prolonging the woes of Thon Buri residents on the west side.
The floodwall, built using huge sandbags weighing about 2.5 tonnes each, was to be completed last night.Soldiers speed up work to fill sandbags weighing 2.5 tonnes each along a rail track from LakHokin Pathum Thani to Don Mueang airport as part of the city’s flood-relief operations. CHUMPORN SANGVILERT
Authorities hope the big bags will stem the flow of the northern run-off and ease the flooding in Don Muang, Lak Si and Bang Khen districts, as well as sparing the inner city from the deluge.
People who live on the western side will have to bear a heavier cost, however, as the barrier means that flooding there, initially estimated to last about a month, could persist for a further two weeks.
The 6km levee will run alongside the railway track from Chulalongkorn sluice gate in Pathum Thani's Thanyaburi district to Decha Tungkha Road above Don Mueang airport.
The Flood Relief Operations Command (Froc) yesterday said when the entire length of the flood barrier is in place, the runoff held behind it will be diverted to the east and west of Bangkok.
For the eastern part, the run-off will be channelled into Khlong Phraya Banlue then to Khlong Dan in Samut Prakan, from where the water will be pumped out to the Gulf of Thailand.
Along the west, it will be directed into Khlong Raphiphat, then Bang Bua Thong district of Nonthaburi before emptying into the Tha Chin River.
Anond Snidvongs, an academic on the Froc water-draining committee, said once the levee is finished, floodwater in Rangsit and Don Muang areas could be drained off in seven days.
However, experts at the Froc said flooding in western Bangkok would persist longer than estimated, or for at least 45 days, as a result of the flood barrier. This is because the Tha Chin River has been overflowing its banks, which will hamper drainage efforts.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said yesterday drainage in western Bangkok is more difficult than in the east.
The problem has been compounded by leaks in 13 dykes on the western side of the Chao Phraya.
"I want to tell the public honestly that we have to endure this condition for a while," she said.
Ms Yingluck conceded that a lack of coordination among agencies has slowed relief efforts.
The government, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and each province have their own ways of dealing with the floods, and until recently they had not worked together.
Earlier yesterday, a dispute among flood relief officials at a Froc meeting chaired by Ms Yingluck arose as the BMA's request for pumps to help drain the water in Thon Buri received no response from the Royal Irrigation Department (RID).
RID chief Chalit Damrongsak said he had not received the BMA' s letter requesting pumps to drain floodwater from Phasi Charoen district in Thon Buri. However, City clerk Charoenrat Chutikan insisted the BMA sent the letter to the department, via the Froc.
Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra also told the meeting some of City Hall's water pumps may need to be temporarily shut down for maintenance because they have been working around the clock for many days.
Democrat Party and opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday urged the Froc to find ways to alleviate the impact of the "big bags" barrier on residents in the west of Bangkok.