Khlong Hok Wa barrier row erupts into violence
Six people have been injured by an explosive device thrown into a large crowd who were trying a fix a breach in a sandbag flood barrier in Bangkok’s Sai Mai district last night.
The blast followed a dispute over the sandbag flood barrier at the lower line of Khlong Hok Wa in the district.
Police found debris of what appeared to be a brick attached to gunpowder. The package was thrown onto the bridge across the canal where around 100 residents were trying to close a 70m-wide gap in the barrier.
Police said the incident was aimed at stirring up a confrontation between residents on both sides of the flood barrier.
Crowd-control police from the Metropolitan Police Division 2 were deployed to beef up security.
The 70m-wide gap was created in the morning when about 300 Pathum Thani residents dismantled a stretch of the sandbag flood barrier at the lower line of Khlong Hok Wa.
The breach caused more floodwater to surge into Sai Mai district.
Ratchapol Boonrod, deputy district chief of Sai Mai, said residents from tambon Lat Sawai of Pathum Thani’s Lam Luk Ka district removed sandbags from the flood barrier.
The level of floodwater in Sai Mai district then rose rapidly from the previous 20cm to between 30cm and 40cm.
The Khlong Hok Wa flood barrier is one of the two major barriers that block floodwater in Pathum Thani from surging into the northern part of Bangkok. The other barrier is in tambon Lak Hok of Pathum Thani, which connects to Bangkok’s Don Muang district.
The residents demanded that the entire length of the Khlong Hok Wa flood wall be made to serve as a weir, that the sluice gate at Khlong Phraya Suren be raised higher to 1m, and that they be paid more flood compensation.
Sanya Cheenimitr, director of City Hall’s Drainage and Sewerage department, arrived at the scene and negotiated with the angry residents.
After hours of talks, Mr Sanya bowed to their demands and ordered the Khlong Phraya Suren sluice gate to be lifted to 1m, prompting fierce protests by downstream Sai Mai district residents.
Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra yesterday said the damaged sandbag barrier and the widening of Phraya Suren sluice gate would cause about 4 million cu/m per day of floodwater to flow into Bangkok.
The affected areas include Sai Mai, Ram Intra and Bangchan Industrial Estate in Min Buri district, he said.
Anond Snidvongs, an academic for the Flood Relief Operation Command (Froc), said yesterday the raising of the Khlong Phraya Suren sluice gate as demanded by the Lam Luk Ka protesters would not help lower the flood levels in Pathum Thani. Instead, it would cause more floodwater to flow into Khlong Bang Chan in Min Buri district.
Bang Kapi, Wang Thong Lang districts and areas of Min Buri near the Suan Siam amusement park would be affected, Mr Anond said.
Meanwhile, an agreement was reached yesterday between residents affected by the big bag flood barrier erected across Phahon Yothin Road and the Flood Relief Operations Command (Froc).
It has been agreed that a 5m-wide gap be created in the barrier. Froc officials did not believe the gap would raise the floodwater levels on Phahon Yothin Road.
On Wednesday, about 200 residents of housing estates along the main road removed some of the bags on top of the barrier near the air force base, unleashing torrents of water through a 3.5m gap after the Froc rejected their demand that an opening of at least 10m be made in the barrier.
The incident took place at the Directorate of Air Operation Control intersection in Lam Luk Ka district of Pathum Thani province.
MR Sukhumbhand said the gap would send about 400,000 cu/m per day into the Khlong Song and Don Muang areas. The additional water would cause about a 20cm rise in the water level on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road and Don Mueang airport.
Mr Anond said it was estimated that between one million and 1.5 million cu/m of water a day will pass through the 5m-wide gap in the big bag wall on Phahon Yothin, although City Hall’s drainage system should be able to cope with the inflow.
Froc deputy spokesman Pongsapat Pongcharoen said City Hall’s Department of Drainage and Sewerage would monitor the water level hourly for the first 48 hours to determine whether outflows could keep up with inflows.
If the areas inside the barrier could not handle the excess water, the gaps would then be converted into weirs, Pol Gen Pongsapat said.
He added that there might be special consideration about increasing compensation for people who are outside of the barrier. Once discussions are complete the proposal would be submitted to the flood relief committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat yesterday said the plan to salvage Don Mueang airport would have to wait until the floodwater in the airport area recedes, which is estimated by the end of the month.
A 2km-long sangbag wall would be erected along Vibhavadi Rangsit outside the airport. When the water outside the barrier recedes, what remains inside the airport would be drained into the surrounding canal network, he said.