Imagine a world where majestic ships no longer queue up impatiently at the bustling Strait of Malacca, but instead glide effortlessly through a new maritime marvel—a land bridge merging the serene Gulf of Thailand with the mysterious Andaman Sea. This is the vision that Prime Minister Srettha cast before an eagerly listening parliament during a spirited debate on the fiscal 2024 budget bill—a vision of innovation, of untangling the current maritime maze that 60% of the world’s seaborne petrol transport navigates through.
In a tone rich with foresight, PM Srettha was not merely answering questions from the opposition, but painting the picture of a transformed global trade landscape. “With the Strait of Malacca clogging up like an old drain, we have to swift-foot our way to a solution, and the land bridge project is a symphony of strategy and shrewdness,” he asserted with confidence.
The prime minister went on to detail visions of a land bridge not just as an expedient path for the flow of industrial goods—which Thailand, a hive of foreign investment, churns out—but as a savior from the maritime mishaps that frequent the Strait. “Close your eyes and picture this: a future free of the snarly tooth-and-nail dance of container ships awaiting passage, unfurled instead into a serene glide from gulf to sea,” he enthused, captivating the assembly with a scenario set against a projected 10 to 15 years of escalating cargo volumes.
But Srettha didn’t stop there. The PM, juggling the twin hats of prime minister and finance minister, proposed this land bridge as a beacon of peaceful cooperation in a world too often splintered by superpower spats. “This is Thailand extending an olive branch clad in steel and asphalt to the world,” he opined. “A place where the US and China can shake hands over their shipments, setting aside their discord at our docks,” he championed, underscoring Thailand’s role as an imperturbable conduit for global trade.
Feedback from all walks of life—local folks, the vigilant civil society bodies, keen-eyed businesses, and the sharp-tongued opposition—has been stewed together to sweeten the mega-project recipe. PM Srettha was quick to note that this feedback is the yeast to the land bridge’s bread, ensuring its rise to global prominence.
Let’s not forget the financial intrigue of the story as well, for Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich kingpin, has cast an eye of investment towards refining capabilities on this land bridge. PM Srettha presented this with a flourish: “With this project, our cherished Thailand will become a bastion of energy and food security—an oasis of stability in a desert of discord, ensuring an uplift in our people’s lives,” he promised, inciting nods of approval.
But what does this southern land bridge entail? Ports on the western coast of Ranong and the eastern sunrise of Chumphon, unified by a dedicated highway and railway designed with the sole purpose of freight transport. The previous government’s meticulous studies pinpointed Laem Riew Cape in Chumphon and Laem Ao Ang Cape in Ranong as perfect port players for this ambitious venture. Imagine docks abuzz with 20 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of containers—the quintessence of trade efficiency.
This is not just a plan; it’s a phased journey of a whopping one trillion baht investment, unfolding over four stages. And the crown jewel? A 93.9-kilometre transportation corridor with its sinews extending 89.3km over terra firma and stretching its fingers across the sea to each port’s embrace. A vision of prosperity and unity, painted on Thailand’s canvas for the world to admire.