Prisoners to start clearing Bangkok’s drainage system on July 1

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will start hiring prisoners to clear a target of 500km of the capital’s drainage system on July 1st, said Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt after a meeting with Corrections Department director-general Ayut Sinthoppan.

With a budget of 15 million baht, 100km of the drainage system will be cleared first, said Chadchart, who admitted that the cost is a bit higher than the one proposed by the private sector, but the quality of work is expected to be better. The newly elected governor aims to get 500km of drains cleared within 4 months.

The cooperation between the BMA and the Corrections Department was initiated by Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin, who said prisoners could help in doing this kind of work, which would enable them to earn some income while contributing to society.

Chadchart said the city administration can deal directly with the Corrections Department, without requiring a contract bidding process, because both are government agencies.

He said that the prisoners must be treated like ordinary citizens, regarding pay and welfare, and must take part voluntarily.

Each district office has been instructed to identify the areas where they would like the drains to be cleared first, said the governor, adding that he would prefer the work to commence before July 1st, noting that people are impatient to get the flooding problem fixed.

While the drain clearing is underway, he said that he would like residents to take a look at what is found inside the drainage system because, in some areas, there is a large amount of grease. This indicates that grease traps have not been installed in those neighbourhoods.

He pleaded with households to install grease traps in their kitchens.

There are about 6,500kms of main drainage pipes in the capital, including 2,000km which are the responsibility of the Department of Drainage and Sewerage. The remaining 4,500km of smaller drains are under the care of each of the 50 districts.

Ayut, meanwhile, said that all the prisoners, from 10 prisons, who will work on the drain clearing will be handpicked, because of their good behaviour, adding that each will receive 70% of their pay for the work after they complete their prison terms.

He confirmed that all of them will be screened for COVID-19, using rapid antigen test kits, before leaving and upon returning to their prisons and they will not be allowed to venture out of the restricted areas in which they are working. All are from prisons which are clear of coronavirus, he added.

About 40 canals in the capital were dredged before Chadchart assumed office.


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