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

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid