Phetchaburi industries brace for deluge

Phetchaburi industries brace for deluge

Retailers confident of preventive measures

A flood wall built around a 7-Eleven in Phetchaburi's Muang district. Businesses have been preparing for months to avoid a repeat of the 2011 crisis. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
A flood wall built around a 7-Eleven in Phetchaburi's Muang district. Businesses have been preparing for months to avoid a repeat of the 2011 crisis. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Industrial and business operators in Phetchaburi have stepped up preventive measures to deal with the possibility of flooding as a large volume of water overflows Kaeng Krachan dam.

Retailers of all sizes, from convenience stores to hypermarkets and department stores, are unlikely to see much negative impact from the anticipated flooding in Phetchaburi, as most of them have come up with safeguard measures.

Banyat Kamnoonwat, assistant vice-president of CP All Plc, the operator 7-Eleven, said that having experienced heavy flooding in Phetchaburi three years ago, the company does not anticipate a huge impact from this year's flooding.

But the company has also been following the government's alerts closely and has prepared its facilities to deal with flooding.

He said the company has already moved electric equipment to a higher level, and new stock has been moved to the second floor of 7-Eleven stores, particularly in downtown locations. Some necessities are being stored at 7-Eleven stores in safer areas.

Salinla Seehaphan, corporate affairs director of Tesco Lotus, said the company has planned alternative transport routes and increased inventory at its Surat Thani distribution centre, which is capable of supplying Tesco Lotus stores in the southern region, including in Phetchaburi.

"We still believe that the impact from flooding should be manageable," she said.

For alternative routes, the company plans to use the coastal highway to avoid the main highway that goes through Phetchaburi's Muang district.

For Kanchanaburi province, there are several alternative routes that Tesco Lotus could take.

Stores located in high-risk areas have already prepared for flooding, Ms Salinla said.

Moreover, Veerayuth Chalermsak, general manager for work process and audit at Robinson, the operator of Robinson Department Store, said the company is confident that it can handle the upcoming floods in Phetchaburi.

"Since the heavy flooding in 2011, we have always been prepared for many risks and have placed preventions to cope with the flooding," he said.

"The company has a special annual budget for flood preventive measures for our stores across the country," Mr Veerayuth said, adding that the company has prepared equipment for use during floods.

In Phetchaburi, the company built a 1.8-metre dike surrounding the Robinson lifestyle shopping complex to prevent water from entering the complex in the past 4-5 months. It has also installed a big water pump in case of heavy flooding this year.

(Video YouTube/Ch3Thailand)

Suphan Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, said the FTI has yet to receive any reports about flooding in Phetchaburi impacting any manufacturing plants locally.

"The province is not a strategic area with plants crucial for the industrial sector," he said. "There are small factories for garments, textiles and electronics parts, and the FTI is confident that industrial operators in Phetchaburi can manage any flood risks to their businesses."

Meanwhile, Attapon Jirawatjanya, acting governor of the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT), said there are no strategic industrial estates in Phetchaburi, unlike other provinces in central and eastern regions.

But the Ratchaburi Industrial Estate, which consists of 32 companies, is located in Photharam district on 1,430 rai along the Mae Klong River.

"We have no worries about any impact on industrial areas in Ratchaburi," Mr Attapon said.

He said concerns are focused on the expected flooding in the western region, which has significant contributions to the country's agricultural crops, as well as a major forest area and a national park.

However, the government has kept updating and monitoring the monsoon rains, which are expected to hit some parts of the country this month.

"We forecast that the new storm will not directly impact Ratchaburi and Phetchaburi," Mr Attapon said. "But we are not concerned about flooding in industrial estates in Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani provinces, as large volumes of water from the northern region flow directly to those two provinces through the Chao Phraya and Pasak rivers and flow into the Hantra and Kamang canals."

Moreover, the IEAT is confident that related government agencies can handle the flooding, since teams for the country's water management are in place to protect the industrial estates in all provinces.

"History will not be repeated," Mr Attapon said. "Unlike during the widespread floods in 2011, we are more experienced and will not undergo the suffering of that tragedy again."

The IEAT forecasts that the Bhumibol dam reservoir will be 57% full and the Sirikit dam reservoir will reach 67%.

The Royal Irrigation Department said it will increase the discharge rate of the Chao Phraya dam in Chai Nat province to relieve the water running off from the northern region. The rate will rise from 500 to 2,000 cubic metres per second.

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