The government firmly believes that the 1-trillion-baht Land Bridge megaproject will significantly benefit not just a single province, but the entire southern region, according to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s statement on Monday.
On Monday, the government began its official visit to the Andaman region, with the first stop being Ranong, one of the locations involved in the megaproject.
This visit marks the government’s initial official tour of the project site, following Prime Minister Srettha’s international roadshow to attract foreign investors, amidst escalating concerns from critics about the environmental implications of the project.
Prime Minister Srettha, accompanied by Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit, visited Laem Son National Park in the Kapoe district to oversee a construction site related to the project.
Following this, the delegation proceeded to Laem Ao Ang in the Muang district, where they were briefed by the project committee.
Prime Minister Srettha highlighted that the report emphasized the need for land reclamation and a spatial plan for bridge pier construction to support the local fishing industry.
The initiative aims to establish a logistics network linking Ranong and Chumphon provinces, featuring deep-water ports in both areas, a motorway, and a railway system traversing the two provinces.
Mr. Srettha explained that the 1-trillion-baht project is also designed to ease traffic in the Strait of Malacca, a crucial point considering that 60% of the world’s oil supply is transported through this waterway.
“Constructing a megaproject that links the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea to the world is important to lessen congestion,” he said.
“It will also bring development to the country, as it can influence more foreign investors.”
While acknowledging the necessity to communicate with all stakeholders, including opponents, Prime Minister Srettha noted that the project is in its initial stages, necessitating additional public consultations.
He further mentioned the government’s plans to conduct a more thorough environmental impact study in response to the escalating concerns, as well as to explore the potential for wellness tourism in Ranong.
Prime Minister Srettha also stressed that the successful implementation of the project would bring widespread benefits, not just in logistics but also in creating new opportunities for those in the Andaman region beyond Ranong.
“The Land Bridge project and the official trip are our attempt to do something for the locals,” he stated.
In response to the opposition’s criticism about the project’s cost-effectiveness, Transport Minister Suriya highlighted the project’s support from numerous foreign investors eager to invest in it.
The Rak Phato Network, a conservation group from Phato district in Chumphon province, has been at the forefront of opposing the land bridge project, voicing concerns over its potential adverse effects on marine biodiversity and the local fishing industry.