November 10, 2011 00:00
By The Nation
Photo : Uthorn Sri
Bang Chan Industrial Estate is under serious pressure from rising floods, with factories advised to raise machinery from floor level to prevent damage.
Yongyuth Thongsuk, deputy permanent-secretary of the Industry Ministry, said yesterday the estate was operating under Stage 1 of a three-stage emergency plan, after water in the Saen Saeb Canal went a metre above normal levels. The second stage will be triggered if the Saen Saeb Canal goes 1.3m above normal, when factories will be told to prepare for evacuation. If the water level goes 1.4m above normal, factories will be warned to evacuate.
Seri Thai Road, on which Bang Chan Industrial Estate is located, was under 20-30 centimetres of water when The Nation surveyed the area yesterday afternoon. The road was still navigable by small cars.
Organisations have placed some 8,000 two-tonne “big bag” barriers along the inbound and outbound footpaths of Seri Thai Road in a bid to create a channel, should flood levels rise, to release run-off into Bang Chan Canal. But the sandbag barrier is only 10-per-cent complete due to a shortage of equipment. Meanwhile, each factory in the industrial estate has brought in larger pumps to expel water into Saen Saeb Canal.
Meanwhile, 20 companies have temporarily shut down operations for fear of losses due to flood damage.
Industry permanent secretary Witoon Simachokdee said yesterday that water levels in the surrounding area had climbed to 97cm, prompting concerned agencies to keep a close eye on safety issues.
After being menaced by rising water levels for more than a month, the industrial estate is expected to be the next to succumb to floods after seven industrial estates in Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani were overwhelmed by the inundation.
Bang Chan Industrial Estate is home to 93 companies with a combined investment of Bt19.8 billion and employing 13,800 workers.
So far, some 29 pumps are expelling 500,000 cubic metres of water per day at the estate, with 12 boats helping to accelerate the process.
In addition, the estate is monitoring water levels in nearby provinces in a bid to anticipate the need for additional flood-relief equipment and measures.
Somjate Thinnapong, president of the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, said flood waters have surrounded the estate for several days, and more flowing into the area.
“We have monitor the water level round the clock, especially to the east of the estate, and are doing our best to fight against it,” he said, adding that various kinds of barriers have been installed to help protect the area.