Interesting Article
05 March 2024

Thailand Mega Project - Land Bridge

Graphics by Bangkok Post

With the Thai government's commitment to expand transportation infrastructure across the country. To create an integrated link between land transport networks. It also promotes the national economy and the well-being of its people. Therefore, the government has accelerated the development of transportation infrastructure and services, focusing on multimodal links.

This contributes to the seamless integration of transportation modes and transportation networks. For example, the Gulf of Thailand-Andaman Economic Bridge or Land Bridge is one of the infrastructure and transportation service development projects by connecting two ports, Chumphon Port and Ranong Port, to connect seamlessly with each other. Promote modernization of water transportation and increase economic competitiveness with other countries.

The Land Bridge project will also help accommodate the growing transport demand between The Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, which currently has the Malacca Strait as a major transport link, serving 100,000 vessels annually with an expected increase to 400,000 in the next 30 years, causing traffic congestion and shipping delays. The Land Bridge is therefore an alternative project of great importance to Thailand's maritime trade as Thailand is strategically located in the heart of the Indochinese Peninsula

Benefits of the Land Bridge Project

From being a country with a free economic zone The benefits of Land Bridge project in the domestics scope are to attract investors to expand their investments around Ranong and Chumphon ports and increase the competitiveness of the southern economy. The development strategy of the Land Bridge project is divided into 4 strategies. 1. Promote and develop competitiveness in transportation and logistics distribution 2. Promote and facilitate maritime or related businesses, such as bunker services, maintenance, and insurance 3. Development of port industry and domestic industrial clusters, including Thailand's industrial promotion policy and potential industries for Land Bridge. Lastly, it is to promote investment and privilege related to policies related to interests in Thailand and abroad.

Benefits of Land Bridge Project in the International scope 1. International transport via Land Bridge is a shortcut for transportation between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, as well as an option for regional transshipments. 2. Maritime Trade Gateway promotes BIMSTEC and EEC connectivity 3. The Thailand-China Railway Development Project will be a maritime trade gateway for southern China.

Investment Mobilization

Thailand is trying to accelerate investment mobilization for the "Land Bridge", a project already presented at a meeting in Beijing by Thai Prime Minister Settha Taweesin. Presenting the benefits of connecting container ships between ports on both sides of the Land Bridge route, the Road Transport Plan and the high-speed rail will cross southern Thailand from Chumphon province in the Gulf of Thailand to Ranong in the Indian Ocean to load containers onto waiting container ships.

For China, there are "two reasons for China to invest." First are financial benefits, second are Geopolitical benefits. In term of Financial, China considers this project is not worth the investment, but in geopolitical terms, it may be interesting because China will be able to control trading on both sides of the sea area in case their container ships are unable to sail through the Malacca Strait, which is a sea route through Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia due to Geopolitical conflicts or tensions, likely with the United States

Thailand is also open to interest from all investors, including those who rely on Middle Eastern oil market, which is now transported through the Malacca Strait to China and East Asia.

Big obstacles to be dealt with

The road to success is not easy for mega projects like Land Bridge, but they still have to overcome a big hurdle: dissidents who see the project as having environmental, ecological and lifestyle impacts. Some academics still believe that the project is not worth the investment that requires a budget of at least 500 billion baht, nor does it meet the needs of logistics operators. Although the Land Bridge project will connect the deep-sea port on the Gulf of Thailand. In Chumphon province and deep seaport on the Andaman side, Ranong province, there is a route linking the two ports with about 90 kilometers distance. The project with similar objectives to the "Thai Canal" that wants to connect the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman to reduce the transportation transit time from South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, passing through the Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman, entering South Asia, Middle East, Africa, and Europe for about 2 and a half days compared to transportation through the Straits of Malacca. So, this is not worth enough to invest in.

From an economic point of view, the project may be worth the investment, but public hearings have been conducted by local residents and entrepreneurs who are still concerned about the impact on nature. However, Landbridge was a flagged project 20 years ago, but until then it had not been able to move forward. For the reasons mentioned above, this dusting project will really be achieved. It remains to be seen.

CRL Import Team