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New flood barrier at Bang Pa-in Industrial Park 'ahead of schedule'

The construction of floodwalls surrounding Bang Pa-in Industrial Estate in Ayutthaya, which was totally inundated last year, is making good progress, with 60 per cent already completed and the rest expected by January, two months ahead of schedule, the manager of the Bt704-million project said yesterday.

The imposing structure, 11 kilometres long and 6.4 metres high, may have caused worries for nearby residents that floods will hit their areas even more heavily, but it could potentially save both Thai- and foreign-owned facilities from massive flooding. At stake is not only the economy of the province, but also Thailand, which relies heavily on foreign investments and their sustainable operations.

Piyawadee Kosalanant, the chief of operations at Bang Pa-in Industrial Estate Co, said no one from nearby residential areas had complained to her company, which manages the industrial park and leases sites in it.

"The floodwalls should raise the flood level by four or five centimetres from the stagnant flood level of one metre on average," she said.

The barrier consists of a 4.4-metre clay foundation, which is already finished, and a 2-metre concrete structure on top that was about 30-per-cent done. The wall would last at least 50 years and could withstand the flooding, which last year reached 4.8 metres, she said.

Sets of embankment dykes operated by six large machines would reinforce the wall in case of weakened protection and 12 large pumps were on standby to drain the water out of the wall, in case there was long-term stagnation at a higher level next year.

Piyawadee did not discuss possible flooding this year before the wall was completely ready.

Phanthep Kalpraphaphat, a legal adviser for an electronics assembly plant inside the estate, said he was confident that the complex would remain flood-free this year, adding that a contingency plan to move equipment to a higher elevation had been put in place, as the firm suffered Bt1 billion in property damage due to high floods last year.

Nanthawat Krajangthanasap, who runs an auto dealership and lives by the estate, said he and his fellow locals were dreading the strong tides reflected from the estate's wall bashing their homes, but he personally agreed with the need for the wall.

"If the estate doesn't survive, neither will I, because it will hurt the manufacturing sector and result in people losing their jobs, and me being unable to sell my cars," he said.


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