FRIDAY, February 23, 2024

PM pushes ambitious Land Bridge project in South to create trade hub in SE Asia

PM pushes ambitious Land Bridge project in South to create trade hub in SE Asia

Caretaker Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha wants to expand transportation infrastructure to enhance the economic development of the Southern region, government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri said on Sunday.

This includes connecting transportation between the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, he added.

This project is intended to further enhance the advantages of Thailand's geographic location in Southeast Asia, which is conducive to transportation and trade. Relevant agencies have been instructed to study and develop the southern Land Bridge project as part of the basic infrastructure development efforts to integrate seamless transportation service between the two seaports in Ranong and Chumphon provinces.

Efficient marine transportation is expected to boost Thailand's economic competitiveness. The prime minister has closely monitored the progress of the project and emphasised the need to be thorough, consider opinions of stakeholders, business operators, investors, and local residents.

The government spokesperson also added that the main infrastructure of the Land Bridge project includes deep-sea ports in Chumphon province on the Gulf of Thailand side and Ranong province on the Andaman Sea side. The connecting route between the two ports spans approximately 90 kilometres and consists of a six-lane expressway and standard gauge railway tracks. The project takes advantage of the country's geographical location as a strategic transportation and trade hub in Southeast Asia.

The Land Bridge project aims to reduce distances and transportation costs, as well as support the growth of other complementary industries, Anucha said.

The spokesperson added that the Land Bridge project is not only about developing transportation infrastructure and logistics, but also a crucial part of the Southern Economic Corridor (SEC) development. The SEC covers Chumphon, Ranong, Surat Thani, and Nakhon Si Thammarat provinces, and is envisioned as a central hub linking trade and logistics with the country's main economic areas. The SEC is expected to serve as a platform for developing high-value bio-industries and agricultural processing, as well as elevate the quality and standards of tourism on an international level.

Currently, the project is gathering feedback from various groups, including international investors in various shipping lines, Thai and foreign business operators, and the public. Additionally, studies are being conducted to assess environmental impacts and analyse investment development models, accompanied by extensive public consultations.

The Ministry of Transport envisions that once the Land Bridge project is completed, it will increase the country's gross domestic product (GDP) in the Southern region from 2% to 10% continuously for at least 10 years, generating economic value of nearly 500 billion baht. Furthermore, it will create employment opportunities, introduce new professions in communities, increase income, and enhance the quality of life in all areas, the spokesman said.

The prime minister wants to lay the foundation for integrated basic infrastructure development, which will link all regions of the country, as well as extend to neighbouring Asean nations via land, rail, sea and air transportation infrastructure, he said. Being a regional transportation hub would support agriculture, tourism, various industries, and improve the quality of life of the people in the area and boost Thailand's competitive capabilities, Anucha added.