Investors from 3 nations eye Land Bridge
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Investors from 3 nations eye Land Bridge

Southern Economic Corridor bill to set stage for megaproject expected to be passed this year

An artist's interpretation of a deep-sea port in the Land Bridge project. (Photo: Land bridge mega-project)
An artist's interpretation of a deep-sea port in the Land Bridge project. (Photo: Land bridge mega-project)

Major companies from China, Japan and the Netherlands took part in a “market sounding” event on Thursday for Thailand’s 1-trillion-baht Land Bridge megaproject, a source said on Friday.

Among the key participants were OOCL Logistics (Thailand) Co, SITC Container Lines (Thailand) Co, K Line (Thailand) Co, China Harbour Engineering Co, Evergreen Container Terminal (Thailand) Co, Maritime & Transport Business Solutions BV, Hebei Port Group Co, Royal HaskoningDHV, Siam Piwat Co, KWI Plc, Tokyu Corporation, WHA Industrial Development Plc, Amata Corporation Plc, Bank of China and The Hokuriku Bank, said the source.

A representative of China Harbour Engineering sought an investment option, asking what the government would say if an investor was interested only in building a new harbour in Ranong province, which is a part of the scheme, said the source.

The Land Bridge is designed to consist of two major ports, one in Chumphon on the Gulf of Thailand and the other in Ranong on the Andaman Sea. They will be connected by a new highway and a railway.

A sole investor, which could also be a consortium, that wins the bidding for the investment rights to the project would be responsible for investing 1 trillion baht in carrying it out.

Of this sum, 330.8 billion baht would be spent to build the Ranong harbour, another 305.7 billion for the Chumphon harbour, and the rest for the highway and railway linking them.

The prospective investors expressed views on what they expected from the scheme, said the source. The feedback will be compiled and incorporated into the Southern Economic Corridor (SEC) bill, which is now being drafted.

The bill is expected to be passed by Parliament before international bidding is called for the project’s first phase, which is due to begin late next year, said Deputy Transport Minister Manaporn Charoensri.

The SEC bill is required to be passed into law to allow the SEC policy committee and its administrative office to be established, she said. They will be responsible for directing the implementation of the Land Bridge investment project.

Approved in principle by the cabinet on Oct 16, 2023, the project is initially designed to be implemented in four phases, said Ms Manaporn.

The business model proposed for the project is public-private partnership (PPP) net cost, in which the bid winner would be granted the right to fully invest under a 50-year concession to operate the project. The government would be committed to facilitating the project, said Punya Chupanit, director-general of the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning.

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