Saksayam pushes for megaproject

Saksayam pushes for megaproject

Wants southern land bridge plans sped up

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob has urged agencies to expedite the southern land bridge megaproject, which will connect the Gulf of Thailand with the Andaman Sea.

After participating in a video conference on the project, Mr Saksayam said 16-metre-deep ports will be constructed at both ends, with direct connections to the nation's rail and highway networks.

The ports will accommodate both goods and passenger transport, with the potential for pipeline transport, he said.

"The shortest and most direct routes between the ports will be chosen for the land bridge project. Transport infrastructure in areas surrounding the land bridge will be improved to spur development and improve income distribution," he said.

The criteria for selecting the ports' locations will be in line with the Port Planning Handbook, developed by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the master planning process for greenfield ports by the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure, he said.

Areas behind the ports will be developed as special economic zones.

In March, the minister said the location of the land bridge -- touted as a more convenient way to transport goods from the Middle East to the Pacific -- will be decided by June.

The government is surveying several locations in Chumphon and Ranong, he said.

Regulations will be amended to shorten processes and reduce the documents required for goods transport in an attempt to attract businesses, so they will invest in and use the land bridge.

On environmental impacts and public approval, the project's infrastructure construction will focus on minimising the project's impact on the environment and communities, while encouraging public participation, he said.

The project will prioritise the benefits for the local communities by setting a minimum quota for local workers and social responsibility plans, he said.

The project will take into account the environment and the quality of life of local residents, the minister said.

The Transport and Traffic Policy Plan Office will conduct further studies on the land bridge to prove its benefits to national development.

The office was also instructed to find suitable partners -- both inside and outside of the country -- to jointly carry out the project.

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