The United Kingdom is keen on investing in Thailand’s mega-transportation projects, ranging from double-track railways and airports to seaports. That interest came out of a meeting of Transport Minister Prajin Juntong and UK Ambassador Mark Kent. Prajin will propose to the Cabinet the development of Pak Bara Port, which could be promoted as Asean’s logistics hub. Ports slated for improvement are Map Ta Phut in Rayong, Laem Chabang in Chon Buri, Pak Bara in Satun and Songkhla 2 in Songkhla.
The Da Wei Deep Sea Port’s development is also included. Recently, the government approved the national transportation and logistics strategic plan with an investment of Bt3.4 trillion over eight years. Prajin said his ministry would ask the UK government representative to discuss with its deputy permanent secretary and the State Railway of Thailand about the parallel-track railway project in detail and with Airports of Thailand Plc about the improvement of Suvarnabhumi Airport. The Marine Department has been asked to proceed with the Pak Bara Port project’s strategic environment assessment and economic and social impact analysis.
The project’s proposed budget is about Bt50 million and construction is expected to commence next year. The construction of both sea ports – Pak Bara and Songkhla 2 – is part of the government’s logistics strategy, which includes the two ports, railway, road and land bridge linking the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea, to promote it as Asean’s sea-transport hub. However, there are reportedly protests from social activists and communities over likely adverse impacts from the construction of the ports and heavy industry at marine tourism spots.