Bangkok Subway News – June 2004

Subway unsafe? - June 17, 2004
With the New World Department Store collapse still a hot topic, the latest controversy in the Thai press is the bold statements made by the Engineering Institute about both the subway and buildings in general. Today has the entire string of claims and counterclaims. You will not find stuff like this in the English-language papers...

Engineering Institute claims that the Subway system is very dangerous - translated and summarized from Manager Daily, June 15, 2004
The Engineering Institute of Thailand said all the buildings in Bangkok are ready to be collapsed at any time since engineers are too greedy to care about the safety of the people. Thus, people must be careful when they go into any building.
Deputy Prof. Tortakul Yomnak (Director of Engineering Institute of Thailand) have said that virtually all buildings in Bangkok can collapse at any time. MBK is a good example of this "building time bomb." If terrorists set fire to MBK, those who are stuck inside the building will be burnt to death within 15-30 minutes since the structure is ready to collapsed during the arson due to poor design and fire traps inside the buildings caused by products clogging walkways.
Cram schools in Siam Square are another fire trap and ready to collapse during storms. Even by the vibrations from heavy trucks running around Siam Square shakes the buildings.
Even those who use the Subway system had better be fit enough to run out of the stations within six seconds if a fire breaks out since there are too few gates in each station and the fire alarm is not working properly.
Even the design of air-conditioning systems inside hospitals are in a very sorry state since it does not have any air cleaning system to kill virus and bacteria.
The Chief Engineering of Dept. of Civil Work and City Planning said the owners of buildings are caring more about their own private interests at the expense of public well being. Even the skyscrapers and condominiums in Bangkok have very lousy fire alarm and extinguishing systems and poor structures. Legal loopholes have kept the old but poor designed buildings alive.
The experts on earthquake and vibration from Chulalongkorn U. have condemned architects and engineers that care more about money from the builder owners than public safety. Even worse, the hiring of foreign engineers to control the construction of buildings is a sign of the total failure of Thai engineers since those foreign experts are out of touch with the reality in Thailand.
The expert on fire safety form Chulalongkorn U. said the remedies for these problems are to add more requirement courses for civil engineers such as the building law codes and the building control course by going to the construction sites instead of staying in the lecture rooms.
The instructors in engineering schools must come up with new teaching methods for engineering courses by taking engineering students to the construction sites instead of keeping them inside lecture rooms.

The Engineering Institute also said... - translated and summarized from Matichon Daily, June 16, 2004
1) Bonanza Building (opposite of MBK) violates the law by not installing fire escapes and building in a form not appearing in the blueprint.
2) MBK - Fire escapes are filled with garbage and the building codes are violated by adding more floors.
3) Advertising billboards are not designed to be storm resistant.
4) MRTA Subway has no sprinklers for fire extinguishing at the platform and concourse levels. NFPA 130 is not adequate to handle arson in Thailand.

Irregularities in the northern section of the subway - translated and summarized from Than Setthakij, June 17-19, 2004
Even though MRTA is going to invite His Majesty and the Royal Family to make an Official Ceremony for the opening of the subway system at Hua Lamphong Station this July, the northern section (Bangsue - Huai Kwang) seems not to be cleared--it still has several defects left untouched to correct this matter. MOTC, MRTA and CSC1 seem to take a kickback from ITD and Japanese partners to look the other way instead of making through inspection and correcting this matter. BMCL must keep all the records and take photographs of subway stations in detail as evidence to file lawsuits against contractors like ITD.

MRTA insists the subway is safe - translated and summarized from Matichon Daily, June 17, 2004
MRTA has responded to the critics from the Engineering Institute of Thailand saying the contractors have followed NFPA standards and the output has been inspected by MRTA and NFPA as well as CSC1 (independent consulting engineers). If there are some defect, CSC1 has to explain to the public as the way to force BMCL and Siemens to correct the errors to ensure public safety.
MRTA will ensure that the evacuation route will be within 300-500 m from the platforms. Even though the restrooms have been closed for public safety, it does not matter very much...
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