People in the news
Wiwat Singchai, a business man from Samut Sakhon, had no expertise in water management, but that didn't stop him from introducing two innovative projects that helped keep his province dry.
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Dozens of water pumps are the key to success of the artificial canal Khlong Pradi in releasing floodwaters into other canals before heading out to sea.
This story is a bit longer than we are used to but it is not difficult to understand. You have probably already heard of Wiwat Singchai and his remarkably water management projects.
The heart of a HERO
The flood control waterway project, proposed by a local businessman, is a success
Wiwat with his daughter Thanadporn, and son Watcharapol.
'You there? Can you check on that water pump?" said a man in smart-casual wear – a rolled up long-sleeve shirt, dark trousers and a leather sombrero – to a worker, on the other end of the transceiver, taking care of the troubled machine. Then he walked ahead to inspect the floodway construction site near the watergate, which is designed to tackle flood problems in Om Noi district, Samut Sakhon province.
Wiwat Singchai isn't an engineering graduate or a water expert. He is a businessman who operates a paper material factory in this little coastal province. But when the massive floods threatened his hometown early last month, Wiwat, together with his three children, became an instrumental part in solving the flood crisis – not only in his province, but adjacent areas, as well.
The owner of Singchai Industry Co Ltd is now operating two water management projects: The Khlong Pradit, an artificial canal near Khlong Bang Nam Jued designed to help drain floodwater into natural waterways in the Thon Buri-Pak Tho area quickly, and a watergate at Om Noi.
Wiwat's house, which is located in Thon Buri-Pak Tho and built on high ground, was fortunately spared from inundation. However, after watching the plight of the flood victims on TV, he decided to take an active role in protecting lives and properties, as well as combating Thailand's worst flooding in 50 years.
Wiwat applied his business and management skills to tackle the flood issue: Solve the problem at its root. First, he visited several of the flood-hit areas and discovered that the rising floodwater could not been drained effectively because of the Bang Nam Jued canal's bottleneck, which also meant that any garbage in the canal impeded the flow of water even more. Wiwat realised that the only way to help divert and drain the floodwater faster and more efficiently was to dig up an additional waterway. So he proposed his plan to the Samut Sakhon Provincial Administration Office; the plan was eventually given the green light.
Thanks to the success of the man-made waterway, with large areas on all sides of Rama II Road saved from imminent inundation, Wiwat has been praised as a ''local hero''.
Like millions of other kind-hearted people, Wiwat said he started with sending in donations, which included survival kits, portable toilets made from paper drums produced at his factory, and 10 large boats made from large foam panels. However, he soon realised that giving donations to help flood victims would be a never-ending story if the flood-affected communities remained inundated and uninhabitable.
''Unless we can make their homes dry and safe enough to live in again, giving out donations will never end,'' said Wiwat.
''If my three-million-baht donation can help 300,000 people, which works out to be 10 baht in aid apiece, it's worth investing,'' he added. The local hero also received contributions from his friends and business partners, including construction materials at a low cost. Even the public sent in donations after hearing about the success of the man-made waterway, which went to cover some of the initial costs the Singchai family paid.
But money wasn't what motivated Wiwat and his family to help – it was their strong will to help ease the suffering of the people. Besides, he believed that all the money donated to charitable organisations would mostly, if not all, going towards buying survival kits for the flood victims, and not towards problem-solving efforts.
The total cost of constructing the man-made waterway (five million baht) may seem a small amount, given Wiwat's millionaire status. But this does not include all the weeks of lost business during the construction of the prefabricated waterway. About 95% of the factory's production was devoted to making materials for the steel waterway, leaving just 5% of production capacity to produce goods for clients. Every morning, the family of five would split into two teams: one team, led by Wiwat, at the working site, and the other, led by his wife Jarunee, taking care of the factory.
''How many times in your life would you have the chance to help this many people? Not many. And this was such a chance,'' said the local hero.
After working indoors at his factory all his life, Wiwat Singchai is now calling the shots for the floodway project at Om Noi watergate.
Currently, Wiwat is working on the Om Noi watergate project, which proceeded at the request of the Samut Sakhon Provincial Administration Office. The watergate is designed to divert run-off from Om Noi, Buddhamonthon and Sam Phran. These districts are low-lying swampy areas, which makes it almost impossible for floodwater to flow without the help of water pumps.
The second project at the Om Noi watergate is to dig up an L-shape floodway that will direct water behind the front of the watergate to a water retention area along the canal, before being channelled out to the sea through the Tha Chin River.
Wiwat's stout devotion has earned him recognition and media celeb status, which has some people questioning if the businessman will now enter politics.
''When these projects are done, I'm done. I'll go back to my business,'' he said with a smile.
key – very important thing, factor, etc. สิ่งที่สำคัญ
artificial – made by people instead of being something natural ที่ประดิษฐ์ขึ้น
release – to allow a substance to flow out from somewhere ปล่อย
casual – not formal, comfortable clothes that you choose to wear in your free time ธรรมดา ๆ (ชุดแต่งกาย)
sombrero – a Mexican hat for men that is tall with a very wide brim, turned up at the edges หมวกปีกกว้างแบบเม็กซิโก
transceiver – a radio that can both send and receive messages วิทยุรับส่ง
inspect – to look at something carefully ตรวจสอบ
construction – the work of building or making something, especially buildings, bridges, etc. การก่อสร้าง
site – a place where something is located สถานที่
tackle – to make an organised and determine attempt to deal with a problem จัดการ
coast – an area of land beside the sea ชายฝั่ง
massive – very large ใหญ่มหาศาล
threaten – to be likely to harm or destroy something เป็นลางร้าย
instrumental – involved in an important way in making something happen
crisis – a situation that has reached and extremely difficult or dangerous point ช่วงวิกฤต
adjacent - very near, next to, or touching ติดกัน
artificial – made by people instead of being something natural ที่ประดิษฐ์ขึ้น
drain – to cause water or fluid to flow out ระบายออก
located – where something is ตั้งอยู่
fortunately – used for emphasizing that something good has happened, especially because of good luck อย่างโชคดี, อย่างเคราะห์ดี
spared – prevented from having to experience something unpleasant อยู่รอด
inundation – flooding น้ำท่วม
plight - an unpleasant condition, especially a serious, sad or difficult one สภาพเลวร้าย
victim – someone who has been affected by a bad situation, such as a disaster, illness or an accident เหยื่อผู้เคราะห์ร้าย
role – the purpose or influence of someone or something in a particular situation บทบาท
property – things, especially valuable things, that are owned by someone ทรัพย์สมบัติ, ทรัพย์สิน
combat – to try to stop something unpleasant or harmful from happening or increasing ต่อต้าน
apply – to make use of something นำมาใช้
issue – a problem that needs to be considered ประเด็น
root – a basic cause or idea รากฐาน, แก่นแท้, ต้นตอ
bottleneck – a narrow area where a water in a river or traffic on a road slows or stops คอขวด
impede – to delay or stop the progress of something กีดขวาง, กั้นขวาง
flow – (of a liquid) to move continuously in one direction ไหล
realise – to know about ตระหนัก รู้
divert – to cause something to change direction เบนเส้นทางเดินน้ำ
propose – to suggest an idea for a group to consider เสนอ
imminent – likely or certain to happen very soon ซึ่งใกล้จะเกิดขึ้น
donation – money or goods that you give to an organisation, especially one that helps people เงินหรือสิ่งของบริจาค
survival kit – basic supplies given to people victims of a disaster so that they can survive for a period of time
portable – easy to carry or move, so that you can use it in different places หิ้วได้, พกพาได้
drum – a large container, shaped like a cylinder กลอง
panel – a flat piece of metal, wood, glass or other material that forms part of something such as a door or wall ไม้กระดานที่ใช้ปิดผนัง
uninhabitable – not fit to live in; impossible to live in ไม่สามารถอาศัยอยู่ได้
contribution – a sum of money, supplies, etc. that is given to a person or an organisation in order to help pay for something การบริจาค
the public – people in general ประชาชน, สาธารณชน, มหาชน
initial – early; first เบื้องต้น
motivate – to cause to (want to) do something ทำให้มีแรงจูงใจ
ease – to make a problem, situation or pain less severe or serious บรรเทา
suffering – physical or mental pain or problems ความทุกข์ทรมาน
charitable – having a kind attitude towards people and wanting to help them rather than criticise them ใจบุญ เมตตากรุณา
millionaire – a person who has a million pounds, dollars, baht, etc; a very rich person เศรษฐี, มหาเศรษฐี
status – position สถานะ
prefabricated – made in sections that can be put together later โครงสร้างชิ้นส่วนสำเร็จรูป
devote – to use something for a particular purpose มอบให้, อุทิศ
capacity – the amount of something that can be produced ความสามารถในการ (ผลิต)
client – a customer or someone who receives services ลูกค้า
split – to separate แยกออก แยกกัน
call the shots – to be the person who controls a situation เป็นผู้ตัดสิน
currently – at this time; now ในปัจจุบัน
proceed – to carry out an activity ดำเนินการ
run-off – rain, water or other liquid that runs off land into streams and rivers น้ำหลาก
swamp – an area of land covered by water where trees and plants grow หนองน้ำ
retention – the act of keeping or storing something การเก็บ, การเก็บรักษา
channel – to carry or send water, light, etc. through a passage ทำให้ไหลไปตามช่อง
stout – brave and determined องอาจ, แน่วแน่, เด็ดเดี่ยว
devotion – great love, care and support for somebody/something การอุทิศตัว,การใส่ใจ
recognition – public praise and reward for somebody's work or actions, the act of accepting that something exists, is true or is official การยอมรับ
media – newspapers, television, radio, etc. สื่อ
celeb(rity) – someone who is famous คนมีชื่อเสียง
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