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Toyota readies plants for worst-case floods

Although Toyota Motor Thailand says the worst-case scenario is unlikely, the country’s largest automobile manufacturer is still preparing flood prevention plans for its three plants, two of which face flooding risks.

Vudhigorn Suriyachantananont, senior vice-president of TMT’s administration division, said Toyota had been preparing for two weeks, as it faces risks from slowly draining water.

Its 400-rai Ban Pho factory in Chachoengsao province had to increase the level of dykes by another 1.5 metres, reaching four metres above sea level.

There is also another wall of sandbags, while tools and machinery are sealed and stored in high places.

“The worst-case scenario is that the water is drained to this area through Nakhon Nayok province and the Bang Pakong River, which will result in an overflow of one metre from ground level. We might face risks if the water level is high and sustained for a long period, since the earthen dykes would not be able to hold [the water],” said Mr Vudhigorn.

“However, the provincial governor just changed his mind and said the water would not be drained to the eastern side due to high levels,” he said, adding if it was drained, the water would come from the Pravate canal.

TMT has three factories in Thailand; the other two are the Samrong plant in Samut Prakan province and its Gateway plant in Chachoengsao. Its Ban Pho plant, which produces pickup trucks and modified pickup trucks including the Fortuner and Vigo, has a production capacity of 220,000 units per year.

All three plants, which have stopped production since Oct 10, have a total production capacity of 650,000 units per year. The company said yesterday the suspension would last until Nov 5.

Its Samrong plant is protected in the same way as the Ban Pho one, as it faces a risk by being located next to the river mouth.

“Although we have not been directly affected by the floods, some auto parts manufacturers have been and are not able to send us parts,” said Mr Vudhigorn, adding its main concern was for the government to lower the water level as soon as possible.

Ready-made vehicles were already transported to distributors and some to its Gateway plant, which is 44 metres above sea level and located in the northeastern part of the province.

TMT will pay full salaries to its 16,000 workers, of whom 12,000 are on the production line. The company has also turned its sports complex into a temporary housing space for 300 workers who are on standby.

“I believe it is Toyota’s policy to continue its investment in Thailand, as [the government] will be able to come up with measures to solve the issue in the long term,” said Mr Vudhigorn.

Source: Bangkok Post

ThaiVest Editorial Team

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