Friday, November 25, 2011

Disputes between victims and authorities intensify

Angry protests over prolonged flooding spread throughout greater Bangkok yesterday as authorities tried to keep up with the flood management plan.
Residents in Bang Kae, Thawi Watthana and Taling Chan districts block part of the outbound Kanchanaphisek Road, demanding information about flood management plans after flood gates in three small canals on the Thon Buri side were opened to 1m before the agreed time and the water level in their communities rose by another 10-15cm. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
The disputes between authorities and flooded residents continued with the latest threat coming from people in Ram Intra area who threatened to close Ram Intra Road.
They are concerned the dismantling of the flood barrier at Kor Por Or intersection on Phahon Yothin Road will raise the floodwaters around their homes.
National Disaster Warning Centre director Somsak Khaosuwan said officials will need to do more to protect the barriers to ensure the drainage goes as planned.


"Removing the flood walls can't ease the flood situation," Capt Somsak said. "On the contrary, it takes longer to drain the flood because the water spreads.
"If the floodwater is contained, we can deploy water pumps and drain the water more efficiently."
He said that it was vital to make sure flood-affected communities understand the way the water is managed.
His comment came as a community in Pathum Thani's Lam Luk Ka, led by former finance minister Surapong Suebwonglee, is preparing to petition the Flood Relief Operation Command (Froc) to remove the flood barrier on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road.
Dr Surapong said his community members were working on the petition and that he will present it to the Froc when it is finalised. Dr Surapong's Siwali estate has been under chest-level water for about a month.
The floodwater on Phahon Yothin Road yesterday rose by 22 centimetres from 32cm after the removal of the flood barrier.
However, residents in Sai Mai and Saphan Mai said the water did not increase but the speed of the runoff increased.
On Wednesday former House speaker Arthit Ourairat, also rector of Rangsit University located in the heavily flooded Muang Ake housing estate, suggested blocking Vibhavadi Road and Don Muang tollway.
Dr Arthit yesterday criticised the Froc for its inaction after the floodways were blocked by communities encroaching on them.
"Froc should have exercised its power and ordered the encroachers to move. They don't seem to know how to do it," he said.
He also said he was not sure if Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi who was sent by the Froc to negotiate with him had the decision-making power.
Protests against the government's flood management intensified in Bangkok, Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani this week.
On Wednesday a number of flood-affected residents in Rangsit and Lam Luk Ka areas blocked part of Din Daeng-Don Muang tollway to pressure the Froc to speed up drainage.
About 100 residents from Bangkok's Thawi Watthana, Taling Chan and Bang Kae districts yesterday closed a section of Kanchanapisek road at Khlong Bang Chuek Nang to demand City Hall clarify its management plan.
They wanted to know what the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) planned to do after it raised sluice gates at Khlong Khun Sri Burirak, Khlong Kwai and Khlong Soi to drain the flood and ease Nonthaburi residents' hardship.
"We are willing to ease the hardship of people in Nonthaburi," said Rueng Muangchum, a resident. "We just want to know what the BMA's drainage plan is, how they will drain the water and how long the flood will stay.
According to the BMA's plan, the water will be drained into Khlong Bang Ramat and then be diverted to Khlong Chak Phra and to Khlong Bangkok Yai.
The BMA has promised to monitor the situation closely in the next 48 hours.
Residents of a community near Khlong Khun Sri Burirak said the water was strong and rose by 3cm to 4cm after the widening of the sluice gates.
Nonthaburi governor Wichian Phutthiwinyu said the water level in Bang Kruai district decreased by 15cm following the opening of the sluice gates and water pumping.
The floodwater in the province receded by 3cm to 5cm overall, he said.