Govt urged to improve water transportation

The private sector in Ayutthaya province has urged the government to improve the country's logistics system using water transportation along the Chao Phraya and Pasak rivers.

A general view of a pier along the Pasak River in Ayutthaya province.

A farmers' association also said there needed to be better management of the water level in Pasak River to reduce rice cultivation costs.

They proposed the recommendations separately to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra who on Thursday held a mobile cabinet meeting in Ayutthaya.

Cargo ship operators coupled with CP Intertrade Co, which operates a large inland container depot on the bank of the Pasak River, proposed that the government consider using Ayutthaya as an extension of the seaport where customs procedures could be conducted and goods transported via the river to container yards, resulting in lighter congestion at the current seaport.

Charin Inmuang, a vice-president of Ayutthaya Port & ICD Co, said Ayutthaya has a total of 64 piers so the government should help improve existing waterways and maintain both the Pasak River and Chao Phraya River, providing conditions to support goods transportation via the rivers. 

Cargo operators found that the rivers become shallow in some sections during the dry season so dredging is necessary to facilitate water transportation all year round. 

Mr Charin said the government should limit the size of ships entering the Pasak River to avoid blocking the waterway during the low tide period, which was causing other ships to waste time waiting for the high tide.

It is also necessary for the government to increase the height of bridges as some ships could not pass under them during high tide, putting them at risk of missing the closing time on loading goods at the port. 

The province should also have a better city plan to identify the zoning for pier operations which may be run around the clock and may annoy people living nearly.

The government was urged to develop river information services to provide warnings for safety river transport such as water levels, bridge heights, river current speed, numbers of accidents and ships docking.

However, Transport Minister Chadchat Suthipunt said the government had already included the development of the Pasak River basin in its two-trillion-baht budget earmarked for the country's infrastructure.

He said there is inland port in Lad Krabang district which already functions as an extended seaport so there would need to be a feasibility study to see the suitability of Ayutthaya before making any decision.

Meanwhile, it would be difficult to raise the height of bridges in Bangkok as they are significant to daily transportation of people in Bangkok so they must be discussion with people living on the river banks first. 

Wichien Puanglumjieak, president of the Thai Agriculturist Association, said farmers want the government to undertake systematic management of water for agriculture to ensure rice cultivation for the whole year. 

He cited the examples of three tambons in Phak Hai of Ayutthaya which are facing a water shortage for farming while at the same time two tambons in Wiset Chai Chan of Ang Thong have plenty of water for second-crop rice cultivation.

Farmers, therefore, were demanding improved water management which will help reduce the cost of rice cultivation as farmers need not pump water into their fields.

Related search: pasak, chao phraya, water transport, rice, farmers

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