Govt plans to develop infrastructure in Thailand’s South

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BANGKOK, March 10 – The government plans to develop infrastructure in Thailand’s South in order for Thailand to become the centre of the ASEAN region, according to the second day of a seminar on how the government’s Bt2 trillion budget for infrastructure development will benefit the country and southern residents.

Director of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning Office Chula Sukmanop said infrastructure development in the south will aim to connect routes to Malaysia and Singapore so that Thailand could become the centre of ASEAN. The development there will focus on rail systems, ports, and roads, which will account for about 10 percent of the government’s Bt2 trillion budget.

According to Mr Chula, the first year of the development will expand roads heading towards the south into four lanes and focus on repair and maintenance on some roads such as Prachuap Khiri Khan-Hat Yai and Ranong-Chumphon.

The projects for rail systems and ports will start by 2013-2014, he said.

He also noted Transport Ministry affirmed it would use part of the budget to develop Pak Bara deep-sea port in the southern province of Satun, as it would be beneficial to Thailand in terms of distributing goods to Malaysia and Singapore.

Mr Chula believed the infrastructure development in Thailand’s South will help generate revenues and increase gross domestic product (GDP) for the southern region.

Meanwhile, vice chairman of Thai Federation on Logistics Narong Tamprayod said the government’s huge infrastructure development will make Thailand become the centre of the ASEAN region. He suggested the government to build a port on the Andaman coastline, while connecting both the rail and road systems to the ports in order to facilitate goods distribution to neighbouring countries.

However, the private sector admitted possible corruption in the megaprojects is of great concern.

The Transport Ministry’s projects under the government’s Bt2 trillion budget will cover road expansion into four lanes for eight provinces (123km), double-track railway development Hua Hin-Padang Besar (763km), a truck terminal for the three southernmost provinces, Pak Bara deep-sea port’s first phase, and construction of ports in Chumphon and Songkhla provinces.