Corporations play safe
BANGKOK, 28 June 2012: Leading business corporations are warning their human resource departments to avoid booking Bangkok for seminars and training programmes during October through November.
A reliable source said the global technology company Microsoft had instructed its human resources in Asia to shift training seminars that were scheduled for the Thai capital, during the last quarter of the year to other Asian cities fearing Bangkok would again be inundated by floods.
Other US firms in the region that have extensive training programmes are adopting a cautious approach. Bangkok is popular for its low hotel and venue costs.
The internal advisories are a response to recent reports and blogs on the internet that said Bangkok was sure to flood this October. It is possible that a survey widely publicised in the Bangkok press that indicated the majority of city residents polled in a university survey felt there was a strong likelihood of flooding later this year may have prompted the surge in negative internet predictions and comments.
The comments concluded there was little or no confidence in the ability of authorities to deal with the threat and not enough had been accomplished since the November 2011 floods to make residents more confident.
Last year, a vast area of the central plains, north of Bangkok, was covered in water across an area 200 km north to south and 60 km east to west.
Bangkok is a popular venue for training seminars usually for around 50 to 100 delegates a meeting. They are attracted by the city’s low hotel rates, superb meeting facilities and the capital’s famous entertainment, dining and the shopping options.
A good portion of the training seminar business will now go to Kuala Lumpur the nearest city competitor in price and facility quality.
The assumption is that the authorities are doing very little to deal with the threat, while residents in districts that were affected are reluctant to embark on the expensive task of fully renovating their homes fearing a repeat of the 2011 disaster.
But authorities at both national and city level insist they have measures in place to ensure the city is safe this year.
Bangkok Metropolitan Administration says floodwalls in the capital city have been repaired and reinforced at five points along the Chao Phraya River and at Bangkok Noi and Mahasawat canals.
BMA spokesperson, Wasan Meewong, said 29 canals will be dredged, while 54 water diversion pumps and 48 submersible pumps will be set up.
“A warning system will also be established and a water gauging device will be installed at 15 canals to monitor water flow.”
All of these projects are expected to be completed by September when seasonal monsoon rains intensify. They combine with run-off from rivers in the north and seasonal high tides to put the capital at a higher risk of flooding in October through to November.
Meanwhile, out of the 362 sewer lines across Bangkok that needed to be unclogged, the Department of Drainage and Sewerage, says work has been completed on 328 with a combined distance of 860 km.
Mr Wasan added that another 2,900 km of sewers have been cleaned in cooperation with the district offices.
However, Mr Wasan admitted that other agencies had made little progress in their canal dredging work.
He said the dredging of Ladprao Canal needed to be started urgently because it is an important channel to deal with run-off from the north.