News / Asia

In Flooded Bangkok, Trash Collectors Struggle to Keep Up

A Buddha's statue sits amidst trash at a half-flooded street corner in Ayutthaya province, central Thailand November 8, 2011.
A Buddha's statue sits amidst trash at a half-flooded street corner in Ayutthaya province, central Thailand November 8, 2011.
Gabrielle Paluch

In Thailand's capital, much of the city's attention is focused on keeping more water from flowing into the city's downtown.  But there are also worries over the health risks posed by floating garbage, open sewage and toxic runoff from industrial estates and rice paddies from the north.

Sabong Suprang has been working as a trash collector in Bangkok for more than 10 years and says he likes his job because he makes the city cleaner.

Since the flood arrived in Bangkok, the 52-year-old has been working seven days a week. In Bangkok’s Phet Kasem district, where water has been waist-deep for a week, he is standing barefoot aboard a garbage truck, picking up waste with his bare hands, sometimes grimacing at the unbearable odor.

He says we normally collect trash every day when there is no flooding, but where there is flooding it’s really difficult to access the area for collection. He says there has been a lot of garbage since people evacuated, a lot of it has been left for weeks and smells very bad.

Bangkok authorities estimate the city normally produces 8,000 tons of waste daily, and trucks the garbage to one of three landfill sites. Two of those sites are now underwater. With fewer trash crews working, they now gather just 400 tons per day.

Deputy Bangkok Governor, Pornthep Techapaiboon says the city does not have enough boats for those workers who do still show up everyday.

“Collecting it now, this is the most difficult task because of the flooded area in this crisis, so we didn’t have enough task force because usually we have about 500 people in each district, but right now they are affected so about half of them come to work.”

The city typically employs some prisoners serving time for non-violent crimes who are willing to work for about $10 per day to collect trash. But the deputy governor says the convicts would rather build sandbag dikes instead of risking their health in the murky flood runoff.

“It’s rotten or smelly and polluted with very low oxygen content in the water, that’s all. But it’s no disease or other disease in there yet," he said. "If there is some contagious disease then it will spread very fast.”

Solid trash waste is not the only problem. Bangkok produces an estimated 30,000 tons of sewage each day, and authorities worry about health risks from overloaded sewers. A fertilizer plant capable of processing all of Bangkok’s waste is still unaffected by the flood, but most people living in flooded areas have no access to flushing toilets. The deputy governor says the task of disposing of human waste has also fallen to trash collectors.

“And then also we have been keeping a lot of mobile toilets and so-called comfort seats, with the black bag so they can leave their things in there and they tie it up and put it out and then we can send people to pick it up,” said Techapaiboon.

Besides reducing health risks, trash collectors are also helping to speed the flow of water out of the city. Flood monitors say keeping the city’s canals, drains and water pumps clear of debris is critical to speed the flow of flood runoff to the ocean, where much of the city’s waterlogged garbage will eventually end up.

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More