The Ministry of Transport has been tasked with expediting plans to enhance connectivity between the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) countries and other regions.
Deputy Government Spokesperson TraisureeTaisaranakul disclosed that Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha had instructed the Ministry of Transport to accelerate public expenditure in accordance with the BIMSTEC Master Plan on Transport Connectivity.
As chair of BIMSTEC for 2022-2023 and the lead country in the connectivity sector, Thailand will accelerate projects that will form the basic framework connecting all seven member economies in investment, trade and tourism.
These projects will also connect key economic regions comprising the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and the Southern Economic Corridor (SEC), with South Asia, the Middle East and Europe, aligning with Thailand’s economic policy.
BIMSTEC is a technical and economic cooperation framework comprising seven countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand – that are dependent on the Bay of Bengal. BIMSTEC is home to an estimated 1.7 billion people or nearly 20% of the world’s population.
According to the deputy spokesperson, the ministry is currently working on projects in four categories that are aligned with the BIMSTEC Master Plan on Transport Connectivity, with some already completed, in development, or in the research stages.
The first category covers road and transportation projects such as the Tak-Mae Sot Highway, which was completed in 2019, and the Bang Yai-Kanchanaburi Motorway, which is scheduled for completion in 2024.
The second category includes railway and rail transportation projects such as the Chachoengsao – Khlong Sip Kao Junction – KaengKhoi Junction Railway, which connects transportation between Northeastern provinces and seaports in Eastern Thailand.
The third category includes ports and maritime transport, such as the development of Terminal F at LaemChabang Port, which is set to open in 2025.
The fourth category is civil aviation and airport development, which includes the current expansion of Suvarnabhumi Airport to accommodate more arrivals and the 2019 completion of the Mae Sot Airport expansion project.
The deputy spokesperson said the Ministry of Transport is also working on two projects to connect BIMSTEC countries with ASEAN member states. One of these initiatives is a landbridge project connecting transportation between the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, which is under a feasibility study by the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning.
Another initiative is the Motorway-Rail network (MR-Map) project, which will see the construction of major roads and rail lines between the country’s strategic regions to help boost connectivity. Ten routes have been selected by the government for the project, totaling approximately 7,000 km.(NNT)