FA poll

Is it time to relocate Thailand’s capital city?

We asked our readers in last week’s web poll whether Thais should consider moving their capital city away from flood-exposed Bangkok.
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Yingluck to the rescue...?
<div style="text-align: left;"> Yingluck to the rescue...? </div>

The centre of Bangkok has escaped the floods for now, but in the long term, Thailand’s capital is fighting a losing battle against the water that surrounds it. The city is just 30 kilometres from the sea and lies on a swamp in the middle of a river basin that drains an area the size of Florida.


Should Thailand consider re-locating its capital?



All three — the sea, the swamp and the river — present a growing threat. To the south, sea levels in the Gulf of Thailand are slowly rising as the climate warms. To the north, in the hills that feed the Chao Phraya river, climate change poses another threat in the form of wetter monsoons. Meanwhile, Bangkok itself is sinking into the swamp.

With Bangkok facing so many challenges, we asked our readers last week whether Thailand should consider relocating its capital. Almost two-thirds said no, but there is no doubt that Bangkok faces a very real threat.

The current floods, the worst for 50 years, are still affecting 22 of Thailand’s 77 provinces and have killed 562 people since late July, according to the government yesterday. Such disasters are set to become more frequent, according to the World Bank, which predicts that the risk of flooding will quadruple by 2050.

For Bangkok’s 12 million residents, the water also poses an economic threat. After three months of heavy rains in the north, the city’s creaky network of flood defences has struggled to keep the waters away from industrial parks in the capital’s outskirts, forcing the closure of factories that make hard drives, auto parts and other components of the global supply chain. Such disruptions may discourage further investment if Thailand does not address the flood risk its capital faces.

The question is whether it is worth doing, as it would cost billions to upgrade Bangkok’s defences sufficiently to protect the city’s inhabitants. In the long run, it may be cheaper just to move the capital somewhere drier.

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.
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