Author Topic: poverty is forcing more and more people into the cities  (Read 1153 times)

Offline thaiga

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poverty is forcing more and more people into the cities
« on: June 12, 2012, 01:26:44 PM »
Give rural people a chance to make a living at home

BANGKOK: -- Extreme poverty is forcing more and more people into the cities, where they face even more hurdles that can lead to lives of drug abuse and crime

The recent reports of acid attacks on pedestrians in Bangkok are disturbing indeed. The reports have apparently been circulating for months, and they have scared Bangkokians. But the reasons behind these acts of hatred are perhaps a reflection of the chronic issue of uncontrolled urban migration.

Rachan Theerakitnukul, a 50-year-old scrap collector, was arrested and later confessed to having thrown detergent at one victim in Saphan Khwai. The reason, he claimed, was his anger about social discrimination and insults he felt had been directed to him by society in general. And he chose to vent his anger by attacking innocent people.

Rachan has no right to hurt anyone, regardless of his feelings about society. But his problem brings into focus the issue of unmanaged urban migration. Bangkok has become overcrowded because desperate people like Rachan are forced to move to the cities to find work. Rachan drives a "saleng" cart around town to collect scrap and waste materials in order to make ends meet.

Many people in the provinces don't see a bright future where they live, and they lose the will to stay on to try to make a living in their hometowns or villages. For some, the economic hardship is so difficult to cope with that they resort to drug or alcohol abuse. Rachan is a typical example of this. He is among the thousands of migrants from the countryside who find it hard to get by in the big city, and he has been deemed mentally unstable by the authorities because of his use of methamphetamines.

The Bangkok metropolitan area has grown very fast over the past few decades. Although successive governments have wanted to curb that growth in accordance with National Economic and Social Development Board policy to slow the influx of upcountry people - more migrants continue to pour into Bangkok every year.

Inadequate economic opportunities in the provinces force thousands of people to move to Bangkok. Most have to leave their families behind, and when they find menial work in the city, a significant portion of their income is sent back to their relatives in the provinces. But that is not always the case. Many rural migrants find it too hard to get by on minimum wages, since the cost of living in the city is high, and they lack access to social support. This can cause stress, depression and mental illness.

The problem here is the imbalance in development between the rural and urban areas. There are still too few job opportunities in the rural areas. And without decent education and proper skills, people like Rachan are forced into taking whatever kind of work they can get.

The uncontrolled growth of the city also exacerbates the already existing problems of crime and poor sanitation. In a lot of urban districts, social amenities and infrastructure are inadequate, and what public services there are quickly deteriorate through overuse.

The government and its agencies need to give higher priority to balancing growth between the rural and urban areas. There is an urgent need to create new job opportunities in the rural areas and encourage businesses to move out of the cities. Studies have proved that people are often happier when they're able to work close to their homes and families. By providing jobs to more rural people and encouraging them to stay and help develop their hometowns, productivity will increase and bolster the rural economy.

Rural people always become a top priority for politicians seeking election, but once they're elected, politicians from the remote provinces rarely do anything to help improve the lot of their constituents. Thus we see the ongoing migration to bigger cities.

If this problem is not properly addressed, more people struggling to survive in the city could end up like Rachan. We will see more drug abuse, more crime and more people venting their anger at not being given the opportunity to enjoy a decent standard of living.
The Nation
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.