The Minister of Transport, along with the Governor of Phetchaburi and business people of Prachuap Khirikhan and Phetchaburi, attended a meeting about the project of a trans-Thai Gulf Ferry from Hua Hin/Cha-Am to Pattaya on 6 October 2012. During the talk, some senators of Phetchaburi expressed disagreement with this project.
Held at the Holiday Inn Resort Regent Beach Cha-Am, the event saw the Minister of Transport Mr. Jaruphong Reungsuwan, Phetchaburi Governor Mr. Winai Buapradit and 150 businesspeople attend the meeting. Its aim was to enable all the attendants to discuss about opening transportation by the sea as an option to solve problems of land travelling and promote tourism for Thais and foreigners who want to visit Pattaya, Cha-Am and Hua Hin by a new form of transportation which is much safer than travelling by train or car.
If approved, this project will use a big doubledeck ferry to carry goods and passengers across the Gulf of Thailand. Its first and major terminal is in Pattaya while the first stop from Pattaya to the other side is Saphan Hin Pier in Cha-Am. The second one is at the Hua Hin fishing pier. With the total distance of 113 kms., a trip takes 3.30 hours and one ferry can carry some trucks and cars together with around 200 passengers.
The trip costs 500 Baht per person excluding surcharge for cars. The ferry will provide 3 trips daily for each of the terminals. Seatrans Ferry Co. Ltd. will be responsible for providing ferries for the project under supervision of Harbor Department of Thailand. Businesspeople in Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khirikhan are encouraged to estimate and evaluate impact and problems on the areas and environment where the project takes place while politicians, local people and activists can express their opinion openly.
If every approves the project, the Ministry of Transport will conduct it immediately. Mr. Jaruphong said that travelling by car from provinces of eastern Thailand to those of western Thailand or vice versa is now facing a lot of problems, namely traffic congestion and road accidents which cost many travelers much time and money. Should sea transportation by the ferry exist, both Thai and foreign travelers will enjoy convenient commutation.
The form of sea transport proposed by the Minister of Transport is derived from the one used in Turkey, Italy, England, Shanghai and Hong Kong, where ferries are commonly used to take passengers and goods from one place to another. The Minister of Transport and consultants have already visited those countries on a field trip and realized that such transportation might be useful for Thai people as well.
A senator of Phetchaburi Ms. Sumol Sutawiriyawat said that she disagreed with this project because there might be some hidden agendas since at least a plan on environmental impact of Cha-Am beaches should have been formulated before proposing this project. She added that a cement industry currently located at Saphan Hin in Cha-Am also has some impact to Cha-Am beaches because the road along beaches is eroded so much that a lot of stones have to be used to prevent more damage in that area. Finally, Ms. Sumol informed that the former Government planned to build a motorway along the coastline to Puek Tian and Cha-Am beaches. However, this plan later turned out to be a road across the sea which she believes will affect both environment and local people’s life. That is why she opposed the project until it was cancelled.