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SCANDAL: BKK's New Airport Loses Safety Certificate and Diverts Traffic back to Old One

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posted on Jan, 30 2007 @ 03:14 AM
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Build on reclaimed land on what is known as Nong Ngu Hao, "The Swamp of Cobras", Suvarnabhumi, the controversial new airport of Bangkok, can now ad to its trackrecord "least functioning" if not "most dangerous". Previous on its record list is "longest delayed", "largest free-standing structure" (the terminal) and "tallest control tower". With a budget estimate of 20 billion baht and finished last September at a pricetag of 150 billion baht it is probably among the gravest exceeds in construction budgets at all. To that they now have to ad another estimated 50 billion baht to repair runways. In use for only four months they are seriously cracking, thereby becoming a safety risc, so serious that last week the Department of Civil Aviation denied to renew its Safety Certificate. The final blow to a project designed to become the aerodrome-hub of SE Asia, came yesterday. Please note, it's not only the runways that have problems, they are the top of the iceberg, but sluggish constructions and inconvenient layouts pester the structure. A nightmare for the users, but no doubts an extremely good deal for the constructors, as it was lucrative for three generations of politicians.

 



www.smh.com.au
.


After a crisis meeting on Monday, Transport Minister Admiral Thira Haocharoen made the decision that will see Don Muang (the old airport) revert to its role of handling all domestic commercial flights. This will mean that once again millions of tourists - including the estimated 380,000 Australians who will visit the kingdom this year - will have to arrive at the new international airport, then be bussed back to Don Muang for flights to Thailand's popular vacation spots such as Phuket and Kho Samui.

The plan will add at least two or three hours to their journeys, since the two airports are located about 32 km apart. The decision was taken to ease the burden on Suvarnabhumi, which is in urgent need of repairs to its runways, taxiways, and terminal buildings - just four months after its fanfare opening in September.

.....

The latest problem to strike the airport came on Saturday. Suvarnabhumi director Somchai Sawasdeepol said a connecting joint in a pipe in one of the toilets on the third floor of the terminal came loose. Water then leaked, some seeping down to the baggage storage room on the second floor below. The water damaged some bags. The owners would be compensated, the director said. Airport workers turned off the water valve and mopped up the area.


Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


First error was the particular site. The choice was done almost 50 years ago and must have involved heavy interests in the Swamps of Cobras. The next was to rely on building non-piled runways on reclaimed land. Some tech experts really must have done some convincing talk on construction to sell non-piled runways (probably at a slightly higher price). The following errors can be called customary to the culture, taking bribes to get people in position for land deals, contracts etc. The most profitable among those would have been taking bribes for doing nothing. China, Malaysia and Singapore will have transfered considerable amounts to the the private accounts of politicians to delay the project. All three countries have opened their own new airports in the region.

Expert warned 15 years ago building on a swamp was trouble, but already the landowners then was politicians and their strawmen. You think they would listen?

Even before the airport was operational, reporters pointed out that cracks were forming in the unused runways. They were met with lawsuits of defamation and fired from their jobs. Now they're proven right and thePress Council of Thailand are seeking justice on behalf of sacked reporters.

But justice will never befall the millions of travellers who are forced to use the facillity - unless they choose to go somewhere else of course. I bet quite a few will do so rating the safety risc using Suvarnabhumi. Measures are taken to correct things, someone has to pay, to be held responsible. But the real perpetrators are to be found among the decision makers decades ago. They're long gone with their bribes safe.

So they hold these two men responsible. Nice characters, eh!?

Top airport managers face the chop

[color=#575757] . . . . . . . . .

Chotisak Asapaviriya, president[color=#575757] . .Somchai Sawasdeepol, director
of Airports of Thailand [color=#575757] . . . . . . . . . .of Suvarnabhumi airport

The last year's events in Thailand is an object lesson in how not to do things. All they seem to do is shot themselves in the foot. Some say they are like children without responsibility acting spontaneous, thinking about making money NOW. Yes they are and if needed, others can pay later.

Hopefully not by disaster.

Here's some further reading on Suvarnabhumi, the Swamp of Cobras.

Airport has safety pass held back
Some airlines afraid to use new airport
Airport debacle 'caused by graft'
New Airport cursed by corruption scandals


Related News Links:
www.nationmultimedia.com
news.bbc.co.uk


[edit on 30-1-2007 by khunmoon]

[edit on 30-1-2007 by UM_Gazz]

[edit on 30-1-2007 by DontTreadOnMe]




posted on Jan, 30 2007 @ 09:30 AM
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Savarnabhumi, the mother of all sloppy and corrupt projects

I included a link to a thread about the new airport, but somehow it didn't make it in the OP. Here it is.

Suvarnabhumi, Bangkoks Corruption Ridden New State-of-Art Airport

An exelent OP from today's The Nation must be included as well.

Old Thai proverbs shed light on airport fiasco


It took more than 40 years, an incredibly long time, to plan, design and build this airport, during which time politicians came and went. This is in line with the saying chao cham yen cham ('I just wash one dish in the morning and another dish in the evening'), which describes motionless people who are very economical with their energy and who rarely set their sights on getting anything done. Chao cham yen cham is most often used to describe civil servants who are lazy and lack the incentive to work. Well, that's why it took us 40 years to build the airport. Cracks have begun to appear in a taxiway and runway only four months after its opening. This has raised doubts about the standard of safety at the airport.

It all goes back to the time when politicians, civil servants and contractors colluded to fill in the land at Suvarnabhumi in a suk ao phao kin ('I'll eat it regardless of whether it's cooked or burnt') way. Suvarnabhumi was originally swampland with a high incidence of floods. Efforts to fill in the land began during the government of General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and continued through to the government of Chuan Leekpai.

Engineers and technicians will have to investigate whether the land at Suvarnabhumi was filled adequately enough to support the taxiway and runway. The authorities, at one time, used to allow some water into the land to alleviate flooding in nearby areas, possibly undermining the foundation of the taxiway and runway.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


An independent investigation is underway, but as the one they had on the scanner hoax, they usually don't find out anything. Really, nothing truely independent exists, least of all in Thailand.

Besides from being a money machine, and just as important for their national vanity, it was a prestige project.

Which makes it kinda sad for the Thai people - but it was a all too predictable outcome for any skeptic on the project.

That it was pushed harder than the swamp could stand by the now ousted meglomanic is evident.


While the Thaksin government was in power, politicians adopted a nam khuen hai reep tak ('I must fetch the water while the tide is high') approach. It was time for the opportunists to make money without fear of the consequences. They wanted to open Suvarnabhumi as quickly as possible because only then they could walk away with lucrative deals from the contractors. Now that Thaksin has gone, all the dirty tricks that occurred while the airport was built have become evident. The saying nam lot tor phut ('when the tide goes down, all the stumps show up') accurately captures this. The stench of corruption hovers over the procurement of the CTX luggage scanners and the underground power-line system. There are not enough toilets for passengers, as toilet bowls had to make way for shops.

Shortly after the coup, the military leaders asked the airport authorities if they were ready to open Suvarnabhumi or not. If things were not ready, they could delay the opening further. The authorities assured everybody that the airport was 100 per cent ready to open.

This haste to open Suvarnabhumi was an act of phak chi roi na ('topping my face with coriander just to get a way with it'). In July, two months before he was ousted, Thaksin had proudly launched a soft opening of the airport by flying from Don Muang to Suvarnabhumi. He wanted the new airport to become a hallmark of his government's success.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


I know valid comments on this case might be sparse. My own involvement in the country makes it a pretty a hot topic for me, being dependent on the BKK airport. I haven't yet had the delight to experience the new one live and I'm inclined to expect the worst the day I have to.

But what do you think about corruption, when it is so far that it is open and obvious, an integrated part in the life of a society, the carrot that makes an administration turn and the only mean by which things can be done.

What do you think about this "the mother of all sloppy and corrupt projects"?



posted on Jan, 31 2007 @ 02:22 AM
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The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) has set up a committee to look into the corruption allegations of Suvarnabhumi. An admiral, Bannawit Kengrien is its chairman.

Corruption 'could stem back to Thaksin', he says.


The committee is reading all the building contracts in a bid to find out which contractors were responsible and to see which officials checked and accepted the works, a key move to bring wrongdoers to punishment, Bannawit said. As seen from the information on corruption in all projects, it all could be traced back to the former PM, he added.

"The airport is like a birth-defected child and the person who brought this child to life is having a happy life abroad. We are here to seek punishment for wrongdoers and to improve the airport to be accepted by other countries," he said.

With the authority given to him, Bannawit said he could bring culprits to justice in three months.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

No matter the approach, of course it must stem back to Thaksin. He was the only PM who could get things done, the only one this country ever had with an ability like that. Most politicians just take what's on the shelf, but he actually put up new shelves. More to pick from.

And Suvarnabhumi is probably the largest shelf the kingdom has ever had.

Seventeen administrations has handled it before it actually was fastned to the wall. But the quality and the means by which it is plugged, leaves a lot behind it now shows.

The actual construction has only been undertaken by the last three administration. And the last one, the only one ever, not only to stay a full term, but reelected for a second term, had time enough to fulfil the job. That it wasn't time enough to fulfil it properly shows.

Errors and faults now show up, and hadn't it been for the vital part, the runway, we might never had heard about them.

The rain through the roof, the missing or non-functioning toilet facillities, the grave misuse of commuter space for commercial purposes, the bad lightning or the firesprinklers not connected and the misfunctioning emergency exits would hardly had been mentioned by the press if it wasn't for the runways.

The accessibility issue would have been brought up now and then, most likely without changing anything. That's how things often are in Thailand, they don't work the way supposed to, but can somehow be used anyway, because you learn to live with it. That's what they do in Thailand.


Metal fire-exit doors could become hot and harmful in cases of fire and many air purifiers and air blowers in smoking rooms were not wired and did not work, possibly due to contractors making haste to complete the work, he said.

The terminal's 400-hertz PC cooling system was also problematic, as some sections of the roof were found to have high heat, which could be a problem in summer, Tharet said. The sub-panel would invite Airport of Thailand (AOT) technical officials to fix the problems, he added.

General Pathompong Kesornsuk, chairman of a sub-panel investigating the AOT-King Power contract, said the duty-free giant's bidding paper for commercial activities in the terminal stated towards the end that, besides the prices quoted, it was willing to pay in advance an additional payment worth Bt2 billion to AOT.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

Now you have an issue a part of the world has to live with, the part of it going to Thailand, and it becomes an issue of national prestige. Therefor someone has to at least give a mock to clean up. If there's no prospect of not just holding someone responsible, but actually to pay, it ain't worth the hassle. They might have a good suspect of shady ways in the ousted PM, but I doubt they ever get him to pay.


Meanwhile, Agence France-Presse reported that Thaksin's lawyer Noppadol Pattama insisted that Thaksin had not overlooked safety concerns in the building of Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The interim government has blamed the ousted premier for a litany of problems, including some 100 cracks that have emerged in runways and taxiways.

Noppadol said: "I don't believe the former PM would have speeded up construction without basing the decision on the possibility for sound construction. He speeded up construction by asking officials to work quickly. That does not mean the construction ignored the rules of engineering."

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

It's not just the airport issue -being partly an international one- it's all the domestic issues, the constitutional drafting, the corruption and graft issues, the urgent need for reforms in society and a poor legislation on enviromental issues threatning the health of people, that all comes together and creates major crises. It's a moral crise, caused by a desecration and decline of traditional values, giving way for corruption. It's about unadressed social issues.

The old king is about the only person to have a sound moral habitus left in the country. He's highly revered and looked up to as an example. But next time he turns eighty, and local etiquette and taboo prevents me from discussing the family as such and his son in particular.



posted on Jan, 31 2007 @ 04:11 AM
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Well, I flew out of there not more than 6 weeks ago. The place was very efficent and well designed, I thought. I couldn't get the phones working properly, but that was probably my fault.

It's a pity that they built it shoddily. But I suppose that's just the norm over there. I pale to think what I might find if I were to properly examine the many hundreds of kilometres of raised highways I travelled on in and on the outskirts of Bangkok!



posted on Jan, 31 2007 @ 09:21 PM
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Today's tidbit from The Nation.


IATA WARNING:
Using 2 airports 'a huge hassle'

The International Air Transport Association says using two airports in Bangkok will hit Thailand's potential to be an aviation hub, and flight connections between the two airports will be a major inconvenience for travellers.

"To grow Bangkok as an aviation hub, the long-term vision should be to have all commercial flights operating out of one airport. A two-airport operation will dampen Bangkok's potential for becoming an aviation hub. Making flight connections between the two airports will be a huge inconvenience for passengers," said Albert Tjoeng, Asia-Pacific manager for corporate communications.

In addition to fixing the problems at Suvarnabhumi, Airports of Thailand should also quickly start work on building the much-needed additional capacity at the new airport, he said.



posted on Feb, 4 2007 @ 07:53 AM
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Next week leading architects of Thailand will meet with Savarnabhumi authorities to urge them to take an overall concept in the action that has to be taken on the disaster.

"Treat the disease, not the symptoms", Sinn Phonghanyudh, president of the Association of Siamese Architects says.



The Nation

"The image is so dreadful that many feel more terrified about going to Suvarnabhumi than about flying itself. Putting in a few more toilets or patching up cracks in the floor tiles is not going to help."

"We need to take a holistic approach before coming up with a solution. The AOT has to make people believe it knows exactly what it is doing instead of just responding to day-to-day complaints," Sinn added.

The association's draft report outlines scores of issues, from the lack of sufficient toilet facilities and appropriate signage to unusable revolving doors, inappropriate plumbing fixtures, lack of employee rest areas, blocked emergency exits, poor climate-control design and overall maintenance challenges. If it were just a handful of mechanical teething problems, these could easily be tackled, said Sinn. Instead they represent a complete disregard for basic planning and design.

"What's the point of promoting the world's largest [single] terminal if the space is so badly managed that it becomes inconvenient and even unsafe for passengers and workers?" he said. "Passages to the gates have been encroached on by shops, art and other things. In a fire, every little object impedes escape."
.....

A globetrotting UN official who has used Suvarnabhumi many times told The Nation he was disappointed that it did not live up to government promotion despite many successful new Asian airports to learn from. "It's dirty and looks like construction hasn't finished, duty-free shop take up too much space, and there aren't enough seats to sit on or enough light to read a paper," he said. Sinn also pointed out that choices of material like the structural steel used to hold up the roof were decades old from an international design standpoint, as much lighter and more attractive ones have been around for years.

"It only reinforces the perception that we don't have the creative and engineering expertise for contemporary design," he said. Ten years ago, their association's "Warning: Nong Ngu Hao [Suvarnabhumi] Terminal Design" highlighted many of the problems.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

Don't say they didn't say.



posted on Feb, 13 2007 @ 02:41 AM
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In the ongoing saga of greed and curruption and its pawn, the $50 billion airport Savarnabhumi, a preliminary commission into the calamity hos spoken.


SUVARNABHUMI CRISIS -- problems clearer, but no answers
'No need to close airport'; firms blamed but not named; 'foreign experts needed'


Water seepage into layers of sand beneath Suvarnabhumi Airport is partly responsible for cracks and ruts in areas where heavily-laden planes manoeuvre, according to an investigation.

The Tortrakul Yomnak fact-finding committee said yesterday seepage was responsible for at least 80 per cent of taxiway damage.

Oh my gewd... 80% and sooner or later I have to go in and out of there.


Committee soil expert Prof Dr Surachat Samphantarak said airfield settlement will not cease after draining because it is built on a layer of soft clay. He said although clay immediately below the airport structure had been strengthened a decade ago by prefabricated vertical drainage (PVD) - draining water from the layer - untreated, deeper clay would continue to settle.

Sure ain't good, when you build on a swamp ...remember the name, Nong Ngu Hao, "The Swamp of Cobras", as the locals called the place before it became Suvarnabhumi. Something ghastly can easily follow over to any structure build on a location with sucha whitchy name of origine.

But don't worry folks experts are here to calm us.


"Slowly but surely the clay is settling," Surachat said. "If the pavement is not strong enough we may have differential settlement in different areas. Swampy soil subsides at different rates," he said. That can result in more ruts and cracks.

"I also doubt if the PVD technique was done right. How do we know the contractors completed the drainage process. There is no data supporting the [contractors'] claim settlement in the treated soil layer was stopped [before paving commenced].

How very, very convinient.

Hrmm.. :? maybe they should get more traffic so it can settle quicker? :sacsm:


The affected taxi areas appear to share a common trait, Suebsak said. Water from heavy rain during construction and additional flooding after completion entered the drainage system and seeped into the 1.5-metre-deep sand layer below the pavement. Trapped water mixed with sand destabilises the sand layer, causing cracks on the surface.

While it appears ruts and cracks are confined to about 80,000 square metres of airfield now, experts said it was likely damage could spread to most of its two million square metres. That is owing to increasing traffic and because the layer is already saturated.

Whau, 2 million square metres... that's a square about a mile on each side. Just crumbling as traffic increases.


A drainage solution is needed before the next wet season. "I say most of the taxi lanes and taxiways have been trashed," Suebsak said.

Experts said the key issue was that water should never have seeped into the sand layer and suggested drainage systems were "clearly not designed properly".

Only goes to show, that's how it goes, when it's about money and not security .. ...but one should have thought it was about national pride, leavig at least some cautiousness to the quality issue not having it all on the profit alone.

But no! ...you seldom can say so. That's about a norm in this country, but you would had thought security overrides profit.



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