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Chadchart defends Bangkok drainage chief amid canal dredging uproar

Posted on June 6, 2022

New Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt defended the city’s drainage department chief on Sunday amid a public uproar over Bangkok canal dredging.

The outcry was sparked when Drainage and Sewerage Department director Somsak Udomsak told Chadchart he had only received enough budget to dredge two of the city’s 1,980 canals. Somsak was responding during Chadchart’s Facebook live session to check progress of anti-flood preparations ahead of the rainy season.

His answer triggered an outpouring of criticism on social media, with many netizens questioning the efficiency of the director.

Chadchart said on Sunday that he himself should be blamed for raising the question during the live talk, and not giving Somsak time to prepare a more accurate picture of canal dredging.

Chadchart said it was explained to him later that Chadchart was referring to Bangkok’s two main canals – presumably the Saen Saeb and the Phadung Krung Kasem – while the city’s sub-canals come under the jurisdiction of district offices.

“Please don’t criticise him. The director is really determined in his work,” Chadchart said, pleading for public understanding.

Chadchart also denied rumours that a contractor hired to dredge Lat Phrao canal had abandoned the job. He said the contractor had actually abandoned a project to reinforce the sides of Khlong Lat Phrao, which meant the canal could not be dredged.

Sakchai Boonma, former deputy to ex-Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang, on Saturday urged Chadchart to remove Somsak as city drainage chief.

Sakchai said that as deputy governor, he had supervised the dredging of over 150 canals in Nong Chok and Lat Krabang districts.

Sakchai said the drainage department also used its own workers and machines to dredge over 20 canals, so he did not understand why the director said only two canals had been dredged.

He added that the Bangkok Council had earlier approved a budget for dredging the two canals but later allocated budget for dredging at least 10 more canals.

The department on Saturday issued a statement saying there were 1,980 canals and drainage ditches in Bangkok with a combined length of 2,745 kilometres. It said it dredged 138 canals (282km) in 2020 and another 42 more canals (89km) in 2021. It said it had received budget to dredge 42 more canals (60km) this year, with work on 32 canals due for completion this month.

Contractors will be hired for the remaining 10 canals this month, it added.

The department said it had also been dredging with its own machines and workforce, cleaning 35 canals. It plans to dredge another 65 canals on its own without waiting for the 2023 budget, the statement added.


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