Swamp City

The Thai government announced this week that it will create a special city – an entirely separate province, actually – surrounding the new Bangkok airport, which is scheduled to open in 2006. The plans for this new town, to be called Nakhon Suvarnabhumi, are ambitious to say the least. The planners envision a “water city” and “logistics center” that will be 816 square kilometers in size. It will be constructed amidst a vast network of canals, much like what Bangkok was comprised of over a century ago.

But, like most grandiose government plans, there are many logistical problems to overcome. The biggest hurdle is the geography of the area itself: over ninety percent of the area that is designated to be “Bangkok’s twin city” is composed of freshwater lakes and swampland. In fact, the land where the airport was built is known as “Cobra Swamp.” Just great, huh? Fasten your seat belts, don’t leave your bag unattended, and watch where you step.

Not surprisingly, environmentalists are alarmed at the idea, citing “inappropriate land use” in an environmentally sensitive area. The headline in Thursday’s The Nation newspaper said simply: Dream City called Flood Nightmare.

“The idea to create a new city is an idea to flood Bangkok,” was the blunt assessment from respected local architect Sumet Jumsai. Like many, he fears that further construction in the area will impede water flow and increase the likelihood of flooding in nearby Bangkok, home to over 10 million people.

The “experts” involved in this mega-project should remember what can happen in low-lying flood-prone areas. Just ask the folks over in New Orleans.


John in Atlanta said...

It sounds like the current Thai government is every bit as competent as the current US government.

Jimbob said...

They'll probably go ahead and build it under the assumption that what happened in NO can't happen there. But trust me, it will, it always does !

Bad enough having to screen for terrorists, how do you screen for cobras ? ( Very carefully ! )

Bangkok Bertha said...

Yep, the government here is every bit as scary and incompetent. And guess where the Thai Prime Minister got his university degree? In Texas!