The Thai Transportation department has an ambitious venture on their hands – the “land bridge” – a colossal project aiming to link the Gulf of Thailand’s eastern shoreline at Chumphon to Ranong on the Andaman Sea. Currently, the baton is being passed on to potential investors worldwide, focusing primarily on China, Europe, and America. This insight on the advancements in the plan came from Suriya Jungrungreangkit, Thailand’s Minister of Transport, in response to the doubts and unease expressed by Wichai Sudsawat, a parliamentarian from Chumphon for the United Thai Nation (UTN) party.
Sudsawat had raised his concerns during a parliament meeting about the detrimental consequences this project might have on his voters’ livelihoods. These worries sprouted from Jungrungreangkit’s previous intimations about high investment expenditures and eco-related problems connected with the project.
The concept of the land bridge was cultivated two years ago under the aegis of the Prayut Chan-o-cha administration. It serves as a linchpin to Thailand’s economic rise, harmonizing with the acclaimed Eastern Economic Corridor project and the nation’s two-decade-long strategic plan. The project, which is currently being analyzed by the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP) during its research phase, is intended to enhance the connectivity of the Andaman region in the south via the construction of an advanced transit system.
Jungrungreangkit emphasized that the objective behind the project, although largely economic, also aimed at enhancing living conditions. He assured that all agencies involved were directed to proceed with care to minimize any adverse effects on people’s livelihoods. Panya Chupanich, the OTP director, added that a feasibility report and an environmental assessment are concurrently in the pipeline.
The land bridge initiative, valued at around one trillion baht, will be solely financed by private investment. Chupanich clarified that the government’s role would primarily involve land appropriation. Adding optimism to the project’s prospects, Chupanich noted that thus far, three overseas investors have indicated their engagement.
To engage more investors, the ministry plans to hold roadshows in various international platforms across China, Europe, and the States. Furthermore, to support the feasibility assessment and ensure wide-ranging consultation on the project, public opinions will be solicited from all aspects of society, including the private sector and ordinary citizens.
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