Schedule approved for big EEC projects

Schedule approved for big EEC projects

An official looks at the model showing the expansion of U-tapao airport as part of the Eastern Economic Corridor scheme. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)
An official looks at the model showing the expansion of U-tapao airport as part of the Eastern Economic Corridor scheme. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

The government is committed to starting big-ticket infrastructure projects worth over 740 billion baht next year in the much-touted Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).

The EEC committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesdayapproved the development schedule for the projects with the aim of attracting at least 100 billion baht in private investment annually.

Projects to be launched next year include improvements to roads linking Laem Chabang port and U-tapao airport, a Map Ta Phut port expansion and development of highways in the three EEC provinces.

Others are the third phase of Laem Chabang port, an aircraft repair and maintenance hub at U-tapao and the Bangkok-Rayong high-speed rail network.

Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana said the 158-billion-baht Bangkok-Rayong high-speed rail network is required to settle the terms of reference (ToR) and the public-private partnership (PPP) process by January.

The committee also requires private companies to be chosen to build the project by next July and for the project to commence operation in 2023. The rail is designed to link U-tapao, Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports.

U-tapao airport also needs upgrades to become the aviation centre of the eastern region.

The committee is requiring the first plan to build the second runway of the airport to have ToR settled and for the bid to open by May 2018. Operation of the second runway is scheduled by 2021.

Total investment in the U-tapao project is forecast to top 200 billion baht. Projects in the first phase include a 675-rai commercial area, a new passenger terminal, a new runway, a 200-rai training centre and a free-trade zone spanning 1.52 million square metres.

Mr Uttama said the committee has scheduled the ToR to be issued by June next year for the third phase of Laem Chabang port. The PPP process is required to be completed by October 2018, with operations to begin by 2025.

The national environment policy committee has already approved the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the Laem Chabang project.

The Map Ta Phut port expansion is still pending EIA approval. The project is scheduled to open bidding by June 2018, with a PPP investment agreement settled by September 2018. Operations are envisioned by 2024.

Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the EEC Office, said investment in the three EEC provinces (Chon Buri, Rayong, Chachoengsao) in the first nine months of 2017 totalled 104 billion baht, with investment in the 10 targeted industries making up 67.8 billion baht.

Mr Kanit said investment in the EEC is expected to reach 70 billion baht this year as expected, while the agency has set a target of investment for 2017-21 of 500 billion baht.

According to Mr Kanit, investment is expected to soar when the EEC law comes into force.

Deputy Prime Minister Somid Jatusripitak said the government is confident that foreign investors will flood into the EEC once the enabling law is enacted.

The government aims to implement the EEC law later this month.

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