Another great article from K. Voranai in the Bangkok Post today. If you really want to know why the flooding is extremely bad in some parts of Thailand and why it hasn’t hardly affected inner Bangkok just read below, its all down to one thing: POLITICS
“On Oct 21, MR Sukhumbhand said the flood gates had been open all the time, but added they they could not be fully opened as he had to protect Bangkok from flooding.”
I personally can’t fault the current government for the situation, they have only been at the helms of the country for the past two months and this problem started over 4 months ago, I do wonder why no one has pointed a finger at the democrat party.
“Mismanagement political intrigue? Cruel fate?
The miscalculation, misinformation and mismanagement of Thailand’s flood disaster by the Yingluck Shinawatra government and the Flood Relief Operations Centre (Froc) has been much publicised.
Allegations of the government concealing information from the public abound.
The many claims from the government that the situation is under control have time and again proven false. Villages, provinces and industrial estates have been ravaged by floodwater, one after another.
The reassurance that Bangkok was safe came to nought as floodwater made its way through the north and northeast of the capital.
At Don Mueang airport, the headquarters of Froc, volunteer workers made complaints.
One group claimed that aid materials they had brought and packed with their own hands had been put on a truck flying the banner: ”Donations for flood victims. With love and care from Pol Lt Maj Dr Thaksin Shinawatra.”
The above scenario is much debated and can even be viewed on YouTube.
But Ms Yingluck’s government’s poor performance hasn’t been all its own doing.
As the northern run-off headed to Bangkok, the strategy was to drain the waters into the Gulf of Thailand, according to Froc.
Supporting the plan was former director-general of the Royal Irrigation Department, Pramote Maiklad, in his capacity as the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s (BMA) adviser on the flood situation.
There are three outlets for the northern run-off.
To the east, through Bang Pakong River, to the west, through Tha Chin River, and through the centre, via Bangkok’s canal system into the Chao Phraya. This is where a multi-billion baht drainage system has been put in place since the flood disaster of 1983 through various building phases.
Bangkok has had 28 years to prepare. In theory, the capital has the infrastructure and technological skills to handle floodwater by pumping it out to sea.
To the east and west of Bangkok, responsibility falls on the central government.
The Pheu Thai-led government said they have been letting the water through, but there was too much of it.
However, the Democrat-led opposition claimed that the government hadn’t been letting the water through.
Bangkok is the responsibility of the BMA, controlled by the Democrat Party.
On Wednesday, Oct 19, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra asked Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra to open the flood gates of all Bangkok canals.
The governor replied that they had to remain closed in anticipation of rainfall.
The BMA’s strategy was to construct flood walls to divert the northern run-off from Bangkok.
On Thursday, Oct 20, Governor Sukhumbhand appointed Dr Pramote as the BMA’s adviser on the flood situation.
Dr Pramote counseled that all the gates should be opened and the floodwater allowed to flow through the canals of Bangkok into the Chao Phraya and out to sea.
He said that this should be carried out carefully and the situation closely monitored afterward.
Dr Pramote reasoned that this was the only way to minimise the disaster in Bangkok and provide an outlet for floodwater in inundated provinces north of the capital.
On Friday, Oct 21, PM Yingluck invoked the provisions of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Act (2007).
These give the prime minister full authority over the crisis. Those who refuse to follow orders can be prosecuted for negligence of duty.
The prime minister became director of the relief operation.
The disagreements between the prime minister and the governor over the opening of Bangkok’s canal flood gates have been much publicised.
On Oct 21, MR Sukhumbhand said the flood gates had been open all the time, but added they they could not be fully opened as he had to protect Bangkok from flooding.
The decision meant that that floodwater from the inundated provinces north of the capital did not have a major outlet.
The governor said his responsibility was Bangkok, not the provinces. He continued with the strategy to divert the northern run-off.
For the record, here’s Bangkok’s water level situation over the past two week according to Drainage and Sewerage Department readings.
On Monday, Oct 17, two days before Ms Yingluck asked the governor to open the flood gates, the water level in Bangkok’s canals was very low. There was also low tide in the Chao Phraya.
Boat operators on the Saen Saep canal, Bangkok’s main canal, suspended their operations from Oct 18, because the water level was too low for them to operate.
Floodwater hit Bangkok’s Don Muang district on Oct 20. The main canal in the district is the Premprachakorn canal.
The Premprachakorn canal leads directly into the Chao Phraya where 28 years of preparation and multi-billion baht drainage technology awaits.
On Wednesday, Oct 26, the BMA announced the evacuations of Don Muang and Bangplad districts.
Evacuation of Sai Mai district began on Oct 27 as flood walls had burst.
On Oct 27, one day after the evacuation of Don Muang was announced, the water level in the Premprachakorn canal measured 1.55m above sea level, overflowing the riverbank. The measurement was taken at the Don Muang police station on the canal.
The water level at Wat Tewasoonthorn was at 0.66m above sea level, but still below the river bank.
But canal measurements south of the police station and the temple on the same day show the water level remained well below sea level.
Further south, the measurements at different points of Premprachakorn canal were as follows: -0.29m at Bang Sue, -0.51m at Rama 5 and -0.98m at Dusit, again, all well below sea level and the river bank.
Those were Oct 27 real-time measurements taken from the website of the Drainage and Sewerage Department’s Water Measurement System.
Over the past week, the water level in many of Bangkok’s canals remained well below sea level.
For example, on Oct 27, San Saep canal’s water level was between -0.50m and -1.08m below sea level.
A person could walk in some canals,
This has been the water level situation in Bangkok’s canals since Oct 17, and coupled with low tides in the Chao Phraya, there was a window of opportunity for Premprachakorn canal to take the northern run-off, allowing it to flow into the Chao Phraya and into the sea.
That wouldn’t have saved Bangkok from flooding, but it could have lessened the damage.
But as of Oct 26, sea pressure has been on the rise as high tides push up the water level in the Chao Phraya.
The window of opportunity was closed.
I’m no expert, and the BMA’s water experts could well have a reasonable explanation as to why water levels in sections of the Premprachakorn canal south of the police station remained relatively low on Oct 27 and 28, but the public would probably appreciate an explanation of the rationale behind their decisions.
The window of opportunity for releasing the northern run-off into the Chao Phraya apparently came and went.
On Friday, Oct 28, water being released into Bangkok’s canals coupled with high tides caused the Chao Phraya to overflow its embankments.
Bangkok is now trapped between the northern run-off and the swelling Chao Phraya.
Mismanagement? Political intrigue? Cruel fate? Or all the above?”