Bangkok’s lingering floodsNovember 8, 2011 / By Dan Tantisunthorn
After years of political chaos, global financial crisis, tsunami and bird flu, things had finally started to look brighter for the Thailand economy midway through 2011. With this flooding some say is the worst in 100 years, lingering and their overall impact yet to be fully assessed, the country just can’t seem to catch a break. Besides the direct and indirect damage on the economy being inflicted (the Bank of Thailand has already revised down its GDP growth forecast to 2.6% from 4.1%), the prospect of more flooding in the future will certainly play a bigger role in how Bangkok’s real estate market here evolves over the coming years.
At this point in time, no one can be sure how much worse things may get, nor how much longer the city and surrounds will need to endure this situation. An estimated 10-12 billion cubic metres of water pooling north of Bangkok still need to be drained into the Gulf of Thailand. The brunt of the damage has been borne by residents, retailers and industrialists in these areas north and west of central Bangkok. The situation remains precarious and there can be no guarantee that even Bangkok’s CBD will be spared.
Although still early, the impact is being felt as far as North America with Honda revising down forecasts as its inundated factories can no longer produce critical electronic parts. Residents have had to abandon homes or relocate in some cases which were later to also become inhabitable. Supply chain disruptions and impassable roads have left retailers shelves bare if they are able to open at all in certain areas. Meanwhile, high rise apartments and serviced apartments have filled up with residents taking refuge from the water. Office building parking lots are crammed full as owners try and protect their vehicles from the rising waters.
Whether the current flood is a one-off event or an emerging trend that the country will need to continue to deal with in the future, the government, businesses and residents will certainly need to adjust to this situation. How quickly this happens will depend on the benefits of rebuilding in the present locations with new measures to minimise flooding versus the costs of relocating to better protected zones.