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Bangkok Back on the Chain Gang Again

Convicts to be put to work scraping out capital's sewers

Bangkok Thailand Prison Inmates Convicts Sewers public works

Bangkok soon will be back on the chain gang again.

The Justice Ministry said it will work with Bangkok’s next governor to bring back prison inmates to clean sewers throughout the capital to prevent flooding.

Minister Somsak Thepsutin said he instructed the Department of Corrections to seek permission from Governor-elect Chadchart Sittipunt and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to use convicts for a number of public works project, especially those involving sewer cleaning in the city.

Convicts with good behavioral records were contracted to do cleanup work for the BMA in the past. The permission was, however, halted at the start of the pandemic in 2020 by former Bangkok Gov. Aswin Kwanmuang to prevent the spread of Covid-19, as prisons were hotbeds of coronavirus infections.

Chadchart has since granted the agency permission to rehire the men, citing opportunities for the individuals to work for the public and be compensated for their efforts, albeit at pitiful prison wages.

According to reports from the Department of Drainage and Sewerage, Bangkok’s sewer and drainage systems span more than 6,000 kilometers. The BMA said a cleaning task of this magnitude will require a substantial budget and manpower from many related units.