Transport project scheduling beefed up
Two agencies have been instructed to prioritise short- and long-term transport infrastructure projects to facilitate seamless connectivity of domestic logistics services and support local economic development.
The Logistics Management and Development Committee meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak on Friday ordered the National Economic and Social Development Board and the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning to jointly choose transport infrastructure projects that should be scheduled for the short term (seven months) and for the long term (five years).
"The government is ambitious to develop the seamless connectivity of domestic logistics services in order to facilitate transport not only in cities, but also in rural and agricultural areas to give agricultural products easier and better access to the market and consumers and to promote tourism," Mr Somkid said.
The government has extensively invested in transport infrastructure under the 12th National Economic and Social Development Plan, which aims to cut the country's logistics costs to 12% of GDP by 2021 from 14% in 2016, when the 11th plan (2012-16) ended.
The 12th plan (2017-21) calls not only for transport infrastructure development in major cities and border towns, but also improved connectivity with neighbouring countries.
The new plan aims to raise the rail transport load to 4% of total transport from 1.4% and goods transported via waterways to 15% from 12%, while reducing the road transport load to 80% of total transport in 2021 from the existing 88%.
The plan also aims to provide internet access to 85% of the country's villages nationwide, up from 30% in the previous plan.
Rail development will be instrumental in reducing logistics costs. The 12th plan calls for the development of 14 double-track rail projects, which will increase the double-track rail network's coverage to 2,500km by 2021, up from 359km.
In a related development, the committee yesterday assigned the Transport Ministry the task of mapping out details of the logistics development plan for the Southern Economic Corridor (SEC), especially for the pilot project linking Surat Thani and the upper Gulf of Thailand.
On the heels of the much-touted Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), the government is introducing the Southern Economic Corridor development scheme, which includes a high-speed rail network, a double-track rail system, road construction and an upgrade for Ranong port.
The development plan is scheduled to go before the mobile cabinet's Aug 20-21 meeting in Chumphon.
Mr Somkid said earlier that the government aimed to develop the SEC to spur economic growth in the southern provinces, which have room for investment in local raw materials such as rubber and palm to create value-added products.
Separately, Mr Somkid said the EEC Committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday approved the reappointment of Kanit Sangsubhan as secretary-general of the EEC Office for a four-year term.