Songkhla asks for B2bn boost in flood aid

Songkhla asks for B2bn boost in flood aid

PM visits South to reassure residents

The government will consider setting aside two billion baht for Songkhla to proceed with projects to combat perennial floods, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Thursday.

He was speaking in Songkhla where he visited Ranot district to monitor the flood situation and give moral support to flood-affected residents. More than 5,000 people turned out to welcome him.

He also took a boat tour of flooded areas in Klong Takrea and along Sathing Phra peninsula, distributing bags of relief supplies to residents.

During the tour, Gen Prayut spoke on a megaphone to flood-affected residents.

The premier said provincial authorities had asked for a two-billion-baht urgent budget for long-term solutions to floods and he agreed to consider the request.

This sum would help relevant agencies handle water management in the peninsula area, he said, adding the projects would include building a flood wall as well as canal dredging.

"The two-billion-baht budget would be used to deal with the whole system of water management," Gen Prayut said, adding that various projects would help prevent long periods of flooding.

The four districts in the peninsula -- Ranot, Krasae Sin, Sathing Phra and Singha Nakhon -- need the projects as they border Songkhla Lake and the Gulf of Thailand, Gen Prayut said.

He also called on residents with opposing views not to disrupt the developments.

According to the prime minister, the government is stepping up efforts to address people's needs, such as ways to combat flood and drought.

Plans to deal with the issue have been in place with funds set aside for provincial clusters, plus the central budget, he said.

Gen Prayut insisted the South must be developed on par with other regions.

He said royal family members had expressed concerns over residents suffering from the floods.

Songkhla governor Songpol Sawastham said the long-term solution to the flood problems in the Sathing Phra peninsula is to build a sluice gate to enhance the drainage capacity during the rainy season and capture water during droughts. A 150-million-baht budget is needed for the project, he said.

Citing a study, he said there are four methods to solve flooding in the peninsula in the long term.

They involve building a flood wall and related infrastructure; improving the drainage of canals on the peninsula; diverting water from Songkhla Lake to the Gulf of Thailand; and constructing a comprehensive sewerage system which can block water inflows from Songkhla Lake.

Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the government was asked by residents to build sluice gates around the upper Songkhla Lake to prevent salt water intrusion in canals that feed farmland. The government would consider the issue, he said.

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