Second storm slams Bangkok

Second storm slams Bangkok

Just when commuters thought they were high and dry, the second huge storm in 24 hours slammed Bangkok Tuesday and filled the streets for another waterlogged morning. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Just when commuters thought they were high and dry, the second huge storm in 24 hours slammed Bangkok Tuesday and filled the streets for another waterlogged morning. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The second large storm in 24 hours hit Bangkok with heavy rain and lightning on Tuesday, once again filling majors streets and promising traffic headaches for rush-hour commuters.

The Meteorological Department blamed monsoons that are stronger than usual this week, and promised the winds and heavy rain would ease by mid-week, although it forecast rain for every day this week.

As on Monday morning, the storm began with strong thunder and lightning as it passed over Bangkok for at least two hours.

Monday morning's deluge dropped up to 175mm of rain on parts of Bangkok, and left traffic in chaos. The floodwaters drained off by mid-morning, but traffic was affected and even gridlocked throughout the day.

Hopes for a dry Tuesday commute ended about 1am Tuesday when the second storm hit the city.

Monday's torrential storm was made worse by tonnes of rubbish that crippled the Bangkok pumping systems.

The water left rush-hour traffic at a complete standstill in large parts of the city, especially in the business district, while at least 10 flights were reportedly delayed at Suvarnabhumi airport.

The floods also caused long lines of cars on the expressway and on the city's roads, and people walking barefoot in murky water was a common sight. Many schools and offices in the city declared a holiday.

Speaking after an inspection of Khlong Toey water pumping station, Bangkok city clerk Sanya Chenimit blamed the traffic problems on the large amount of rainfall across the city between 2am and 6.30am, which led to floods in 19 main areas.

The major areas included Rama IV, Asok Montri, Phetkasem, Sri Ayutthaya, and Sukhumvit roads. The highest amount of rainfall was 141mm on Rama IV Road. It took City Hall until 9.30am to drain all the main roads.

It took longer than normal to drain the water due to a large amount of rubbish clogging the sewage system and the water pumping stations, he said.

One of the four pumping machines at the giant tunnel in the Rama IX area had so much rubbish in it it was unable to operate. More than 10 tonnes of waste — including furniture and big trees — is collected daily from water pumping stations across the city, he said.

Bangkok is home to 10 million people and some residents litter the streets and canals in the capital, but the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration can only spare so many staff to clean the city, Mr Sanya said.

Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra reportedly decided to cut short a trip to Europe and return to Bangkok after the flooding.

The governor is expected to arrive back today. He was scheduled to attend a policing global cities and water management and mitigation meeting in the Netherlands until Friday.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Ombudsman plans to recommend that the government set up a so-called superboard to handle transport policy and ways to tackle traffic congestion.

Chief ombudsman Siracha Vongsarayankura has been working on a plan to solve traffic jams in Bangkok and is about to send it to the government.

According to the five-point plan, the government will be asked to form a national transport policy committee, or superboard, to make decisions on transport policies, and the panel will be chaired by the prime minister.

Second, traffic volunteers should be appointed to report any unruly behaviour by motorists or those who violate traffic laws.

Third, the Department of Land Transport will be asked to control motorcycle taxi fares.

Fourth, a survey must be conducted to find more routes to develop, including sois with the potential to connect to main roads, which could serve as shortcuts. The final proposal involves more development of canal routes for public boats.


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