PM orders 4-lane roads built in deep South

PM orders 4-lane roads built in deep South

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha greets local residents and officials during his visit to Yala on Wednesday. (Government House photo)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha greets local residents and officials during his visit to Yala on Wednesday. (Government House photo)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered the Transport Ministry to expand roads in the three restive southern provinces into four-lane highways.

Gen Prayut, also defence minister, said during his official visit to the deep South on Wednesday that he would ask the Transport Ministry to develop infrastructure in the three southern border provinces to link with the main transportation network and boost the local economy.

Currently, there were problems with roads not connecting, particularly in Yala province, in mountainous areas. Road construction and tunnel drilling came at a high cost, the prime minister said.

He saw it necessary to develop roads in the region, expanding them into four-lane roads.

Gen Prayut said a high-speed train project in the South would be developed gradually, as each route required huge a budget. The government decided to invest in a high-speed railway linking Bangkok and Nong Khai in the Northeast as the first route because it would link to China and Europe, and that would support people's travels and the distribution of goods across the world.

He said high-speed railways would later be developed in all regions - the East, the North and the South. 

The government had chosen to invest in the scheme under a Public-Private Partnership agreement  because it wanted the railway to be owned by Thais.  If foreign investors had been allowed to invest 100% in the project, the government would have no rights to develop areas along the route, the prime minister. This would have opened way for foreign investors to reap more profits, he added.

There was also an urgent need to develop dual tracks, which now extended almost 2,000 kilometres, compared with 400km in the past, Gen Prayut said. 

Construction of the first phase of the double-track in the South had already started, on the Nakhon Pathom-Chumphon route. The next phase would begin in lower South, he said.

On airport development projects in the far South, Gen Prayut said all provinces wanted an airport, but the government had to take passenger-demand into consideration in deciding if it would be worth the investment or not, whether airlines would fly the route.

The government was developing Betong airport in Yala at a cost of 1.6 billion baht. Construction was almost completed and the airport was expected to open mid-next year, he said.

Betong airport would be expanded to accommodate large aircraft after the first phase opened, he added.

Yala governor Anuchit Trakulmututa said the province would propose two road projects with an estimated  total cost of 4 billion baht to the prime minister. These were a bypass, projected to cost 1.5 billion baht, and the expansion of Highway No 410 into four lanes at an estimated cost of 2.5 billion baht, the governor said.

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