BANGKOK – City Hall has been sprung into action after an image of the Klong Toey canal covered in garbage drew strong public criticism. It has prompted an immediate clean-up drive and a call for a meeting on Thursday to create awareness among residents.
City Hall will use the notorious image of the “canal of garbage” in Klong Toey district to educate residents on the long-neglected problem.
Though the piles of garbage that practically blanketed the canal have since been removed by authorities, further cooperation from surrounding communities is necessary to prevent it from happening again, said Klong Toey district chief Acharawadee Chaisuwirat.
“We’ll seek their cooperation rather than point the finger at who is behind the problem,” she said.
The city’s approach to the problem contrasts the response of some residents who placed the blame on people who live in rented houses by the canal, occupied mainly by foreign workers.
Speaking to the Bangkok Post, they accused some migrant workers, who have no ties with the neighbourhood, of dumping household garbage into the canal located near the Klong Toey market on Rama IV Road.
Ms Acharawadee said she believes a lack of understanding about the situation is among the major causes. She said this explains why the issue has been left unsettled for such a long time.
The Klong Toey district chief is hopeful about the meeting on Thursday as she plans to seek better cooperation from all parties, including villagers and shop owners.
She is reluctant to fine people who dump garbage in the canal as many residents are low-income earners.
The photo of a severely polluted Klong Toey, which connects to Klong Hua Lampong, was posted on Friday on the Facebook page of “Arom Bojoi”, which means disgruntled.
In the photo, the narrow and shallow canal is dirty and densely littered with various types of garbage, mostly plastic bags and food boxes made of styrofoam.
It drew criticism from many in social media who were outraged by the eyesore and raised concerns over garbage and wastewater management. The photo’s rapid notoriety also lead to an immediate clean-up by authorities.
City officials along with soldiers carried out the clean-up job on Saturday, but because of the large amount of garbage, authorities had to resume the job the following day after the first day’s efforts collected boatloads of waste.
The city’s Drainage and Sewerage Department said the job was completed yesterday.
Authorities then attempted to divert water from the Chao Phraya River into the canal to dilute pollutants.
But the wastewater level in Klong Toey was higher than that in the Chao Phraya River at the time, making it impossible to divert the water from the river into the canal.
Wan Dit-em, a 65-year-old housewife, said the situation took a turn for the worse when a large amount of garbage started being thrown into the canal.
Some canalside residents even dumped thick mattresses in there when relocating because they could not be bothered disposing of them properly, she recalled.
She has lived in a house on Rama IV Road for 20 years and says she has become “familiar” with the stench of wastewater in the canal. Nobody knows how to solve it, she said.
Ms Wan believes the garbage is the result of the thoughtlessness of some foreign workers living by the canal.
“These people don’t care because this is not their country,” she said.
She said she is worried about the image of her neighbourhood as tourists often cycle around the area for sightseeing.