Bangkok's flood defences losing battle with heavy rain

Bangkok's flood defences losing battle with heavy rain

Yes that is a Ferrari California in the middle of heavily flooded Ngam Wong Wan Road near Pongpet intersection, Bangkok, Monday. Photos of the luxury car were widely shared on social media with some users expressing concern over the likely repair costs. (Photos by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Yes that is a Ferrari California in the middle of heavily flooded Ngam Wong Wan Road near Pongpet intersection, Bangkok, Monday. Photos of the luxury car were widely shared on social media with some users expressing concern over the likely repair costs. (Photos by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

City Hall has blamed unusually heavy downpours for causing the flood woes and traffic chaos in Bangkok on Monday night. The city's single giant drainage tunnel can't cope.

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Tunnel takes flak for traffic chaos

Supoj Wancharoen 
Apinya Wipatayotin 

City Hall has blamed unusually heavy downpours for causing flood woes and traffic chaos in Bangkok on Monday night as its much-touted giant drainage tunnel was criticised for failing to ease the city's flooding.

Flash floods caused by heavy rains triggered traffic chaos on Bangkok streets, drawing a barrage of complaints from motorists stuck in traffic gridlock for several hours.

Deputy Bangkok governor Amorn Kitchawengkul met the directors of five district offices in northern Bangkok – Don Muang, Sai Mai, Laksi, Chatuchak and Bang Khen – to discuss ways to cope with flood problems in these areas.

The five districts have experienced heavy rain over the past week. Floods in the areas can only be drained into the Premprachakorn canal. But the canal is now filled to capacity and canal water cannot be drained out to the Chao Phraya River, Mr Amorn said.

On Oct 1, rainfall on Chaeng Watthana Road in Laksi district was measured at 144mm – the highest ever recorded in Laksi district.

City Hall explained that its 2.2-billion baht tunnel under Rama IX Road can't prevent flooding in the whole city area.

On Monday night, rain amounts were recorded at 107mm in Laksi, 90.5mm in Klong Toey and 90mm in Saphan Sung, whereas City Hall's drainage systems can only cope with 60mm.

In northern Bangkok, which borders Pathum Thani, there are low-lying areas such as a section of Phahon Yothin Road near the National Memorial and the Lam Luk Ka intersection, which experience persistent flooding caused by heavy rains.

Efforts are being made to drain floodwater in Klong Premprachakorn into the Chao Phraya River via other connecting canals, Mr Amorn said.

Mr Amorn also said that the Meteorological Department has predicted a combination of a low pressure front and a monsoon trough from the southwest which will affect the Central region and Bangkok from now until Friday, after which conditions are expected to improve.

He said that City Hall is working to drain off water in several canals and instal water pumps in flood-prone areas to prevent inundation.

Adisak Khantee, a former director of the department of drainage and sewerage under the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), explained why the BMA's existing giant drainage tunnel under Rama IX Road had failed to ease flooding for the whole of Bangkok.

Opened in 2011, the 2.2-billion-baht tunnel was touted as a solution to flash floods that usually come after torrential downpours. He said the drainage tunnel is the only one in the city, out of four planned, so its drainage capacity cannot cover all areas of the capital.

The tunnel has a drainage capacity of 60 cubic metres per second and cannot handle excessive floodwater caused by heavy rains, he said.

Next year, another drainage tunnel will be open under the Bang Sue canal, which will help improve flood drainage in Bangkok, Mr Adisak said.

"I assure you that the tunnel is in full operation. But it is the only tunnel and it cannot ease flooding in the whole city. The tunnel can drain floods covering 50 square kilometres, but Bangkok covers more than 1,600 square kilometres," the Bangkok governor said previously.

He also said that plans are being drawn up to build three more tunnels at Klong Bang Sue, Bung Nong Bon and Don Muang to boost efficiency in flood drainage.


  • assure: to tell someone that something is true or will definitely happen - ให้ความมั่นใจ, ยืนยัน
  • Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA): the local government of Bangkok - กรุงเทพมหานคร
  • barrage: a large number or amount of something, especially something bad like criticism - การระดมโจมตี
  • blame: to say or think that someone or something did something wrong or is responsible for something bad happening - โยนความผิดให้, ตำหนิ
  • boost: to increase - เพิ่ม
  • capacity: the total amount or number that can be contained - ปริมาณสูงสุดที่จะรับได้
  • chaos: a situation in which everything is confused and in a mess - การจราจล
  • combination (noun): the mixture you get when two or more things are combined - การรวมกัน
  • complaint: when someone says that something is wrong or not satisfactory - การบ่น, ข้อที่ไม่พอใจ
  • conditions: the weather at a particular time - สภาพอากาศ
  • cope with: to deal successfully with a difficult situation or job - จัดการกับปัญหา แก้ปัญหา
  • criticised: receiving words of disapproval over something that you have supposedly done wrong - ถูกวิจารณ์, โดนว่า
  • deputy: a person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation - รอง
  • director (noun): the head of a large organisation, especially a public organisation - อธิบดี
  • downpour: a lot of rain in a short time - ฝนตกหนักมาก, พายุฝน
  • drain: to cause water or fluid to flow out - ระบายออก
  • drainage: the process of taking away of water or other liquids from an area - การระบายน้ำ
  • ease: to make a problem, situation or pain less severe or serious - บรรเทา
  • efficiency: the ability to work well and produce good results by using the available time, money, supplies etc in the most effective way - ความมีประสิทธิภาพ
  • efforts (noun): attempts to do something - ความพยายาม
  • excessive: much greater than is usual; too much of something   - มากเกินปริมาณที่พอดี
  • flak: criticism - การวิจารณ์, การต่อต้าน
  • flash flood: a flood that happens suddenly without warning - น้ำที่เกิดท่วมในที่ต่ำโดยฉับพลันทันทีและไหลลดลงอย่างรวดเร็ว
  • front: the line where a mass of cold air meets a mass of warm air -
  • giant: very large; much larger or more important than similar things usually are - ยักษ์
  • governor: a person who is chosen to be in charge of the government of a state or province or a government agency - ผู้ว่าการรัฐ, ผู้ว่าราชการจังหวัด
  • gridlock: a situation in which it is impossible to make progress - ติดขัด, แออัด, รถติด
  • improve: to get better - ดีขึ้น
  • in operation (adj.): currently operating or working to do some job - ปฏิบัติ, ปฏิบัติงาน, ปฏิบัติการ, ทำงาน
  • intersection: a place where roads, lines, etc., join or cross each other - สี่แยก
  • inundation: flooding - น้ำท่วม
  • low pressure: a condition of the air which affects the weather when the pressure is lower than average - ความกดอากาศต่ำ
  • Meteorological Department: the government department in charge of determining what the weather will be in the future - กรมอุตุนิยมวิทยา
  • monsoon: the season of heavy rain during the summer in hot Asian countries - มรสุม
  • persistent: continuing - อย่างต่อเนื่อง
  • predict: to say that an event or action will happen in the future, especially as a result of knowledge or experience - คาดการณ์ว่า พยากรณ์จากสถิติว่า
  • prevent (verb): to stop somebody from doing something; to stop something from happening - ขัดขวาง, ป้องกัน, กัน, กีดขวาง
  • prone (verb): to likely to experience a particular problem more often than is usual - ที่มีแนวโน้ม
  • region: a large area of land or space, usually without exact limits or borders - ภูมิภาค, ขอบเขต, แถบ, บริเวณ
  • section: any of the parts into which something is divided - ส่วน
  • sewerage (noun): the system by which sewage (liquid waste) is carried away from houses, factories, etc. and is cleaned and made safe by adding chemicals to it - การระบายของเสียออกทางท่อระบาย
  • solution (noun): one way to solve a problem - วิธีแก้ปัญหา
  • stuck: unable to move, or fixed in a particular position or place - ติด
  • torrential: (of rain or moving water) extremely heavy - ซึ่งไหลเชี่ยว
  • tout: to praise someone or something because you want other people to think they are good or important - พูดคุยอวด
  • trigger: to cause - ก่อให้เกิด กระตุ้น
  • trough: a long narrow region of low air pressure between two regions of higher pressure -
  • tunnel: an underground passage through which vehicles travel - อุโมงค์
  • via: through - ผ่าน (ช่องทาง)
  • woes: great problems or troubles - ความเสียใจ, ความทุกข์ร้อน
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