Northern Areas of Bangkok May Flood Again and the Thai Government is to Blame

My area of northern Bangkok, which flooded three weeks ago, finally dried up at the beginning of the week. Now, after nasty residue from flood waters has been cleaned up by city cleaning crews, Thai Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, announced today we may flood again. And, yes, although she’ll never admit it, it will be her fault.

Northern Bangkok, as well as towns close to it like Bang Buatong and Pathum Thani, flooded a month to two months ago. In subsequent weeks, while northern Bangkok flooded and then drained, the furthest regions of the city, plus these towns, are still flooded. Residents have lived for two months in waist-high water, and yep, they are upset. They want the government to take down temporary flood barriers protecting Bangkok from flood water, so that their two-months-flooded towns can finally get a reprieve and drain. You can’t really blame them.

In the last couple of weeks, tensions between these residents of still-flooded areas, and the Thai government and Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), have grown. Protests about the water have gotten bigger, crowds are getting angrier and, last week, someone even threw a homemade explosive device into a crowd of residents at a flood barrier. As the Bangkok Post reported at the time, six people were injured.

Yingluck Shinawatra, meanwhile, kept making excuses. Excuses why flood waters need to remain in flooded areas (The real reason? She wants to protect inner Bangkok at all costs), excuses why flood water hasn’t drained sooner (The real reason? Her inept government ignored advice from Thai and foreign water experts, causing water to sit longer) and, today, comes the best excuse of all. But this one is about why residents in my neighborhood, and others, are going to flood again.

After areas like mine have already flooded and drained, we’ll probably flood again in the next few days because, after standing up to furious residents from Bang Buatong and Pathum Thani for weeks, today Yingluck Shinawatra decided to cave.

She’s agreed to dismantle flood barriers and let water flow into inner Bangkok. Her excuse? “Residents in flooded areas are suffering. I’d like to ask for cooperation from people in Bangkok to let some water flow into the area to ease the burden.”

But, here’s the thing. The reason towns like Bang Buatong and Pathum Thani, and northern Bangkok, flooded so badly in the first place is, instead of letting flood waters naturally flow through the city, giving most areas around 30 centimeters (easy to live in, as you can wade through it), Yingluck’s government decided to block the water from entering Bangkok and hold it in massive dams.

The water kept rising, they finally had to release some of it, and, when they did, voila, massive flooding in northern regions. But in inner Bangkok? None.

At the time, Japanese water experts told Yingluck’s government they’d be better off releasing all of it, as they figured the resulting flooding to most of Bangkok would be minimal, and all flood waters would drain quickly. But, by trying to control flooding, the government made an already terrible situation completely catastrophic, causing flood waters to devastate certain areas of the city, and then to hang around. For months. And, as a result, from today, some of us get to pay. Again.

So, when my area and the areas of many of my Thai friends flood again next week, do you think I’m going to want to “cooperate…..and to let water flow into the area to ease the burden” of others. Not without cursing Yingluck Shinawatra’s name and her inept flood management, I’m not.

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