PM asks western Bangkok residents for patience as flood will last longer

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BANGKOK, Nov 4 — Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Friday told residents living in western Bangkok to come to terms with the severe flood sweeping those areas for weeks already as it would no doubt linger for a long period of time.

She said her government has no plan to relocate the Flood Relief Operations Centre (FROC) from the Energy Ministry headquarters after deep floodwater encroached Vibhavadi Rangsit Road.

Ms Yingluck chaired a meeting of FROC chiefs and Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) executives including Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra at Bangkok City Hall 2 in Din Daeng district to see the city operation in action tackling flood crisis.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Ms Yingluck admitted that there were some problems of cooperation, particularly regarding information and techniques, among the agencies concerned, and adjustments were needed to enable them to work together efficiently.

A working group will be set up to address flood problems in the long term, but there is no need to establish a new ministry to manage water concerns, she said.

“I would like to ask the people not to dismantle earthen dykes as I don’t want to take harsh measures against those who refuse to cooperate,” the prime minister said.

Ms Yingluck however said the situation in the east of Bangkok is gradually easing as the volume of water is diminishing, but western Bangkok is the main cause for concern as the water flowing through from Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and Nakhon Pathom provinces is running into the Bangkok districts.

Western Bangkok has no infrastructure designed to handle waterflows of huge volumes, so some districts will be under water for a longer period. She asked local residents to understand and accept the situation.

Asking the people to be strong, Ms Yingluck said there would be no more additional holidays. FROC will not be relocated even if the water on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road reaches its offices at the Energy Ministry, located behind PTT headquarters.

The Bangkok governor told Ms Yingluck that the capital’s drainage system was designed to respond heavy downpour-induced inundation but not the massive run-off from the north.

Governor Sukhumbhand expressed concern that Bangkok would face a critical situation from flood if the authorities cannot convince residents near Khlong 8-10 to understand the reasons for closing the sluice gates at Khlong 8-10.

BMA Drainage and Sewerage Department Director Sanya Cheenimitr told the meeting that if the authorities could prevent the floodwater from the east and west of Bangkok from entering inner Bangkok, it was expected that the water could be drained out into the sea within 2-3 weeks.

He also expressed worried that if the huge sandbags could not work properly to prevent flood water, the flood would enter into inner Bangkok.

The authorities are using unusually large 2.5 tonne sandbags piled for five kilometres at the Chulalongkorn sluice gate in an attempt to restrain the deluge from the north from overflowing into inner Bangkok.

The action is expected to reduce water overflowing into two key roads, Phaholyothin and Vibhavadi, as well as Khlong Prapa, the main source of tap water in the capital and neighbouring provinces.