Transport minister moving ahead with B880bn infrastructure projects
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob is moving ahead with the mega-infrastructure investment projects started by the previous government, worth a combined 880 billion baht.
The Bhumjaithai Party key figure has outlined urgent investment projects to be implemented, including increasing the capacity at major airports to accommodate growing air travel demands, which would ease overcrowding at airports and welcome more tourists.
Arrivals at the country's major airports are predicted to surge to 170 million in total in 2021 and to 170 million in 2024, according to the newly-appointed minister.
The capacity expansion will begin with the 42-billion-baht construction of Terminal 2 at the country's gateway Suvarnabhumi airport.
Mr Saksayam said he had no issue with the location of the terminal, even if the location does not conform to the airport's master plan, which stipulates the facility be sited on the south side of the airport.
The ministry will also push ahead with the plan to build a second Phuket International Airport terminal at a cost of 75 billion baht, and the second Chiang Mai International Airport terminal, valued at 55 billion baht. Once completed, both airports will be able to handle up to 10 million passengers a year.
However, Mr Saksayam said the ministry's internal budget, which is set at 420 billion baht, is currently pending review.
The figure is divided into 210 billion baht for investments and the other half is allocated for additional expenses such as officials' salaries.
He said he needs to figure out which aspects of the budget, if any, need to be adjusted before it is tabled to the cabinet for approval.
Mr Saksayam also instructed the ministry to speed up the completion of the high-speed train project deals, which are close to being finalised.
The projects in question include the train line linking Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-tapao airports.
The minister said he has asked the State Railway of Thailand to expedite the handover of land for the project, while some residents have also complained about the expropriation and the environmental impacts of the planned construction.
He also urged authorities to speed up the signing of the high-speed rail contract over the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima line with China.