Author Topic: Floodwater Leaves Bangkok Awash in Trash  (Read 691 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline thaiga

  • Korat forum specialist
  • *****
  • Posts: 16172
Floodwater Leaves Bangkok Awash in Trash
« on: November 05, 2011, 03:57:31 PM »
BANGKOK—Bangkok city street sweeper Jiraporn Sirikul has a bone to pick with her fellow residents: She wants them to pick up their own trash.

As floodwaters begin to surge into Thailand's capital after building for months further upstream, bundles of trash in the city's streets are becoming a headache for Bangkok's garbage collectors—both for the risk of disease it poses and, more immediately, the way the city's rubbish blocks drains and impedes the flow of water out into the sea.
It's a messy and, increasingly, smelly, problem. Bangkok's eight million people—12 million including heavily urbanized areas surrounding the capital—produce around 8,700 tons of garbage a day, about a quarter of Thailand's total. Additional debris is flowing into city from flooded provinces further north and, with many of the capital's roads now flooded, garbage trucks find it hard to get around to pick up refuse.

Some garbage collectors have fallen victim to the floods, too. Ms. Jiraporn's home in the northern part of Bangkok is flooded and she is now living with her family at a Bangkok city shelter.
I don't mind doing what I can to pick up the garbage. It's my job. But people have to learn to help themselves too and realize that when they dump garbage in the streets they risk flooding their own homes and those of their neighbors," Ms. Jiraporn, 45 years old, said, as she surveyed a flooded city intersection with her two young daughters. "People have to learn to be more responsible."

It's a lesson other cities have had to learn the hard way, too. When a typhoon ripped through the Manila in 2009, around a third of the Philippines' capital quickly flooded because of garbage clogging the city's drainage systems. Government workers there quickly mobilized to clean up Manila's drains and launched a public awareness program about the dangers of recklessly tossing trash away.

When a similar storm passed over Manila in September, the flooding was much less intense.

Now it's Bangkok's turn, and the problem in Thailand could be much more severe because of the flood's agonizingly slow movement south towards the Gulf of Thailand, worsening the risk of infections such as dengue fever, diarrhea or leptospirosis, a condition caused by contact with rat urine, not to mention drowning and electrocutions. Nearly 450 people have been killed, mostly by drowning, since the onset of the flooding crisis in late July.

In some places, residents living in garbage-strewn, stagnant water have sabotaged barricades and flood-gates to release floodwaters from their neighborhoods, only to inundate other areas of the city.

On Saturday morning, floodwaters edged closer to the city center, reaching the area around the famous Chatuchak Weekend Market. Police closed parts of another key road, Vibhavadi Rangsit.

Officials have said they will focus on improving the city's drainage systems when the immediate crisis passes. In the meantime, Bangkok's city government is urging residents in eight of the city's 50 districts to evacuate, while businesses and homeowners scramble to strengthen makeshift walls and sandbag barricades to protect their property. Other residents grabbed what they could and set off in search of drier ground at evacuation centers or at relatives' homes.

The clean-up, when the floods eventually recede, will be a lengthy and expensive operation and could determine whether foreign-invested factories swamped by the flood choose to reinvest in Thailand or relocate to other countries or other, drier parts of Thailand. The floods have dislocated supply chains around the world, affecting the automobile and electronics industries especially badly.

Peter Hookham, Asia Operations Claims Manager at FM Global, a commercial property insurer, said the disruptions could rival the economic impact of Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami earlier this year.

"Japan was eye-opener for anybody operating supply chains, and depending on how long Thailand's crisis lasts, our feeling here is that it could be even worse," he said.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said in a weekly radio broadcast Saturday that she is proposing an initial 100 billion baht, or $3.2 billion, budget to rebuild roads, homes and hospitals. Longer-term, she said her government will look at ways to better manage the country's water flow after a series of heavy monsoon seasons.
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.