Prayut wants port, rail progress report
Ministries given May 26 deadline for update
The government wants a progress report by the end of the month on its priority schemes: the projects to link three major deep-sea ports and the construction of the railway projects to link the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).
The EEC Policy Committee has ordered the Transport Ministry, the Industry Ministry and the navy to work together in finalising the plan to link the ports of Map Ta Phut, Laem Chabang and Sattahip within a month, said Industry Ministry Uttama Savanayana.
"The plan should be ready for submission to the prime minister at the next meeting on May 26," Mr Uttama said. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is scheduled to chair the meeting and observe the progress of the EEC around the U-tapao airport area that day.
The government also wants to see the progress of the plan to develop the rail projects that would link the EEC to other regions of the country, Mr Uttama said.
"Foreign investors are very keen to see any progress on the rail projects because rail is seen as the cheapest, most efficient logistics system," he said.
The EEC is the government's latest flagship project, meant to be the growth engine to drive the Thailand 4.0 era using high technology and innovation to add value to products and services.
The EEC is scheduled to span a combined 30,000 rai in the provinces of Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao, accommodating investment in 10 targeted industries. They are next-generation cars; smart electronics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; and medical services.
The government announced double-track railway and high-speed train projects to link the EEC to other countries, but the private sector has voiced concern that progress on the projects has been slow.
Mr Uttama said the logistics costs of rail systems are typically 3% lower than those of other systems. Thai businesses use rail for just 2% of logistics, with 80% on roads and the rest marine, he said.
Other countries have lower logistics costs because rail makes up close to 30% of the total, Mr Uttama said.
The committee has approved plans to develop and modernise the three ports and major train stations to meet rising logistics demand after the EEC is built.
State agencies have been ordered to shorten the approval process for new public-private partnerships to encourage fresh investments in EEC areas.
The government has a plan to educate local residents in EEC areas to ensure that new investments are environmentally friendly.
"We are trying to communicate to locals that our priority in developing the EEC is the well-being of the people," Mr Uttama said.
He said some 60 Chinese investors from Hong Kong and Shanghai are due to visit Thailand next week to observe the development of the EEC.
"They are coming as a result of our latest roadshow in Hong Kong and China last week, which piqued several investors' interest in the EEC," Mr Uttama said.