Laem Chabang Port officials have temporarily suspended a 120 billion baht expansion plan after angry neighbors threatened to shut down the harbor.
Somnuk Jongmeewasin, a representative for residents from four Chonburi districts opposed to the project to add a third pier and new rail lines into Thailand’s main seaport, said June 28 that any plans to begin construction have been put on hold until unresolved issues surrounding the port’s earlier two phases of expansion are resolved.
Residents from 4 Chonburi districts protest the planned Phase 3 expansion of Laem Chabang port. Officials have temporarily suspended the 120 billion baht expansion plan after their angry neighbors threatened to shut down the harbor.
More than 300 Laem Chabang, Banglamung, Takientia and Naklua residents marched from Prachum Khongkha to the port June 22 to give their protest demand to port Director Chalermkiat Salukkum. The protestors - led by Somnuk, Rongpoh Market vendor Raeway Shinawatra (no relation to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra), Sangsan Somboon, Rachanee Maalieng, Pojnarod Kaewphluk, and Chokkhana Upathum - demanded the expansion be halted within a week.
If port officials didn’t comply, the protestors said they would try to shut down the main intersection outside Laem Chabang and continue civil disobedience actions until they got their way.
“In the past, the port would discuss with local committees issues or consequences of the first two phases of the port expansion,” Somnuk said. “But for Phase 3, the project was submitted to the cabinet, taking a shortcut that is illegal and unjust and we must make our stand.”
Faced with an embarrassing and expensive shutdown, port officials agreed to an emergency meeting with Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome and group representatives June 28. Somnuk said the group would wait until July 29 to publicly layout out its full reasons for opposing the port plan.
During its Pattaya session last month, the cabinet approved 30 billion baht in spending on the three-year project that will add a 2 km wharf, twin rail tracks and widened roads around the harbor. Opponents have opposed the expansion, saying it will only exacerbate traffic and pollution problems while destroying fertile waters for area fishermen.