Business turns against Satun deep-sea port
- Published: 30/01/2013 at 05:24 PM
- Online news:
The future of the planned Pak Bara deep-sea port in Satun province is dismal after potential users on Wednesday recommended the government scrap the long delayed project.
Deputy Transport Minister Prasert Chanruangthong said after a meeting with the private sector representatives, including transport operators, that they were not keen on the project, which had been planned for Langu district in the southern province's Andaman coast.
The project needs a cash injection of 15 billion baht and they were not confident about its prospects, the deputy minister said.
The National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) had estimated the port would handle about 800,000 containers a year, but that projection was much higher that the private sector's calculation of only 300,000.
An artist's impression of the deep-sea port planning for Pak Bara, fuelling concerns from fishermen and environmentalists about the impact on the people's daily lives.
The government needed to build an industrial park to feed the planned port with exportable products, but so far the private sector showed no interest in setting up factories in the area near the port site, he said.
The main industry in the area now is para rubber and marine products, which were not sufficient to make the port viable, he said.
The blueprint for Pak Bara, drawn up a decade ago, envisaged it as the largest Thai port on the Indian Ocean rim, but the project has never be able to get off the ground, with successive governments going hot and cold on the idea.
The future need for the Pak Bara port is bleak now the Thai government has become deeply involved in the planned deep-sea port just across the water in Dawei, Myanmar.
One of the problems which delayed a decision to go ahead with the project is that the plan would require the port extend 4.5 kilometres out into the adjoining sea, which is part of the Petra Marine National Park.
Environmentalists and local fishermen have protested against the port development, fearing it would seriously affect the local ecology.
Mr Prasert said these problems had been raised during the meeting on Wednesday.
"Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has brought up the project for discussion and urged a thorough review, especially on the back of the impact of the planned port in Dawei," the deputy minister said.
The government would make a final decision on the project by the end of next month. An alternative plan was to build a new port in Songkhla province in the Gulf of Thailand to promote trade and investment in southern provinces, he added.
About the author
- Writer: Amornrat Mahitthirook