Bangkok’s number two airport, Don Mueang, has been under flood waters for a month, along with most neighborhoods within 10 miles of it, including mine. My boyfriend’s house in Rangsit, an area north of the airport, flooded around the same time, and is still under waist-high water. This week, Thai authorities are trying to come up with a plan to drain flood water from the airport, and some surrounding neighborhoods, and think it could be done in just three weeks. But, is it possible? Will Don Mueang Airport be flood-free in less than a month? It’s unlikely. No.
Since floods hit outer Bangkok a month ago, the Thai government of Yingluck Shinawatra, the opposition Democratic Party, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and the Governor of Bangkok, have all shown how inept they are in dealing with a natural disaster. Fighting amongst each other, dealing with floods in Bangkok has often taken a backseat to party politics and one-upmanship.
That, most of the time, none of these parties were correct in what they insisted on doing to try to solve Bangkok’s worst flooding in almost a century, and often made matters worse, rarely seemed to cross their minds. It has however crossed the minds of millions of Bangkokians, who are sick and tired of all the bickering, and just want floods gone, and their city back to normal.
Now, as flood waters recede in parts of Bangkok, it’s becoming a priority to drain Don Mueang and get it open again. Not the city’s main airport (that’s Suvarnabhumi), Don Mueang is still the home of the Royal Thai Air Force, and several airlines run domestic flights out of it. Getting water off the runways, and airport buildings cleaned up and functioning again, is vital. It’s also necessary if my boyfriend’s house, and thousands like it, is to be flood-free in his lifetime.
In the Bangkok Post today, Dr. Seri Suparathit, a Thai water expert, said the “Big Bag Project”, a six-kilometer line of huge sandbags placed near Don Mueang to stop northern flood water entering Bangkok, must have gaps broken into it if Don Mueang is to be drained within three weeks.
Dr. Seri, the only Thai water expert anyone in the country believes anymore, has been proven to be correct with his flood assessments time and time again. He’s probably correct about gaps needed in the Big Bag Project too. The problem is, nobody in the government is listening to him.
In fact, if Don Mueang is going to be flood-free in only three weeks, it will take a miracle. The miracle of the Thai government, the opposition, the BMA and the Governor actually coming up with a plan they can all agree upon, and then……implementing it. As representatives of the Thai aviation industry state in the Bangkok Post, there’s no plan in sight.
My boyfriend, whose house near the airport is still flooded, says he’s not holding his breath. He’s made arrangements to stay in a hotel downtown, close to his job, and far away from the troubles of his flooded neighborhood. He expects it will be the New Year before Don Mueang is finally water-free, and he’s planning accordingly.
In fact, when floods do recede, it’s unlikely the government, the opposition, or the BMA will have anything to do with it. The airport will eventually just drain on its own. My boyfriend, meanwhile, is considering buying a boat.