BANGKOK – Floodwater’s have encircled an industrial estate to the northeast of Bangkok, adding to fears that Thailand could see a repeat of the devastation caused by floods in 2011.
The flooding in 2011 killed more than 800 people around the country and caused major disruption to industry, cutting economic growth that year to just 0.1 %. Since Thailand is a big supplier of electronic parts, hard disk drives and car parts, international supply lines were disrupted, too.
The government has insisted there will be no repetition, partly because rain has been less heavy this time but also because dams are nowhere near as full as they were then.
The 304 Industrial Park in Prachin Buri province, 135km northeast of Bangkok, has 110 factories, many of them Japanese-owned.
Media said water had entered the park after the Prachin Buri river, 8km away, had overflowed after heavy rain, but a senior official denied that.
“It has affected villagers living near the riverbank but there has been no impact on our industrial park. At our highest point, we are 22 metres above sea level,” Poolsak Sutanthavibul, executive vice president of 304 Industrial Park, told Reuters.
“Some local media outlets used outdated photographs of roads near the estate that were flooded two days ago but that water has been pumped out. The headlines have affected the confidence of some companies with a presence here,” he said.
The industrial estate’s website says it is in a safe zone that provides “natural shelter from flash floods”.
Companies with operations there include Toshiba Semiconductor (Thailand) Co. Ltd, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Thailand) Ltd, Canon(Thailand) Co. Ltd and Berli Jucker Public Co. Ltd.
Berli Jucker, a trading firm controlled by Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, said its tissue paper factory in the estate was running as normal.
“The worst case scenario is that roads will be flooded, which could affect the supply of raw material to our factory and our distribution,” said Metinee Issrachinda, assistant vice president for investor relations.
In August, Toshiba (Thailand) announced plans to move its manufacturing base to 304 industrial estate, to help rebuild confidence among customers after its factories in the central province of Ayutthaya were hit by the 2011 floods.
More than a million people living in 27 of Thailand’s 77 provinces have been affected by the floods this year and nine people have died.
Prachin Buri is the hardest-hit province with more than 8,000 households affected, according to the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.