Thailand is seeking USD 28 billion in investment to build what it calls a “land bridge” across the narrow southern part of the country. The Southeast Asian nation intends to offer an alternative, shorter path for cargo crossing the Pacific and Indian oceans without having to go through the Malacca Strait and Singapore.
As part of the strategy, cargo would travel by highway and railroad from the Gulf of Thailand to the Indian Ocean to be loaded onto ships. More in detail, the project intends to encompass the building of deep-sea ports at Ranong on Thailand’s Andaman coast and at Chumphon on the Gulf of Thailand, which are around 90 kilometres apart. The two ports will operate under a “one port, two sides” concept, supported by a freeway and dual-track railway lines to connect the ports with each other and with the country’s national network. Each port would have the capacity to handle up to 20 million standard shipping containers a year. The plan also includes the installation of an oil and gas pipeline network.
Thailand is calling investors from around the world. At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) gathering in the US, the Thai Prime Minister said the land bridge would reduce congestion at the Malacca Strait and would cut transport duration. According to Thailand’s Transport Minister, more than 10 American companies expressed interest.
The project has obtained the crucial approval of the Thai cabinet, marking a significant milestone in its development. The Land Bridge project, managed by the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP), is presently undergoing feasibility studies.
(Sources: Nikkei Asia; VOA)