Bangkok governor blames power problem for major flooding on Friday

BANGKOK (The Nation/ANN) - The giant drainage tunnel in Bang Sue failed to help as Bangkokians found themselves stranded in traffic for hours or wading through flooded roads last Friday. 

This failure has raised questions about the tunnel’s efficiency as well as the city administration’s much-touted claim that such tunnels will be able to save Bangkok from floods. 
This time, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is blaming the failure on electricity hiccups that required the tunnel’s system to re-start and slowed down the process of draining the roads. “But I can assure you there will be no recurrence of such problems,” Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang said yesterday, adding he has already invited Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) representatives to jointly inspect the tunnel and its systems. According to Aswin, initial inspection showed that some fuses at the Samsen and Bang Son soldering stations, which handle power distribution, were out of order. “They are now replaced. The voltage of fuses was also boosted from 100 to 200 amps,” Aswin said. “This will prevent brownouts, which make the tunnel unusable.” 
Aswin confessed that the BMA was unable to reserve power to run the Bang Sue giant drainage tunnel, because it requires huge soldering stations. 
“We have now assigned relevant authorities to urgently prepare a power supply of 6,600 volts to back up the operations at drainage tunnels,” Aswin said. 
He added that the MEA has also been asked to station officials at every drainage tunnel and pump station in Bangkok during the rainy season, so as to ensure that in the event of any power hiccups, problems can be fixed immediately. “We will bear the cost,” he added. 
MEA assistant governor and spokesman Jaturong Suriyasasin said some fuses have been replaced to boost the security and efficiency of the tunnel’s power system. However, he said, so far it is still unclear what had actually stopped the system from distributing electricity to the drainage system. “We are going to investigate this thoroughly,” he said. 
Jaturong said power had been quickly restored to the distribution system, but the staff were delayed by flooding and traffic jams.
Aswin assured the public that the BMA had already prepared other flood-prevention measures, such as dredging canals and installing or repairing pumps. 
As for photos about garbage blocking the Lad Phrao Canal, which were shared by prominent activist Srisuwan Janya, the governor claimed these photographs were taken in 2017 and 2018. When asked about the calls for his resignation over his failure to prevent flood, Aswin said he will step down if that will help save the capital from inundation. “But the truth is: if I quit, who will solve flood problems?” he said. 
Meanwhile, Deputy Bangkok Governor Chakkaphan Phewngam said the accumulated rainfall in the city last Friday stood at 136 millimetres, and even peaked to 160mm per hour in some areas.
“That’s too much for the existing drainage system to handle,” he said. He added that there were 14 flood-risk areas in Bangkok, including a portion of Chaeng Wattana Road from Prapa Canal to Prem Prachakorn Canal; in front of Bangkok Bank on Ratchadaphisek Road; and a portion of Phaholyothin road from Amornphan Market to Kaset intersection. 
“These areas can be flooded even when rainfall is less than 60 millimetres,” Chakkaphan said, adding 56 other areas in Bangkok were prone to flooding. Among these are: a portion of Ngam Wong Wan Road near the Kaset intersection; the portion of Rama IV Road between Sukhumvit intersection and Kasemrat Hospital intersection; the portion of Ratchadaphisek Road from the Ratchayothin intersection to Soi Arpapirom; and the Prachasongkroh Road. 

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