The Ministry of Transport Mr. Sak Siam Chidchob, has presided over a signing ceremony for six consultancy companies to further investigate the feasibility of a freight crossing route across the Kra Ithmus Involving a port and mixed transport route.
The Isthmus of Kra, the region in question, is the narrowest strip of land in the Malay peninsula. For nearly two and a half centuries, attempts have been made to build a canal connecting the Indian and the Pacific Oceans.
Advocates of the canal (or other Kra transportation initiatives such as road, rail and oil pipelines) invariably argue that the project will create thousands of jobs and revitalise the country’s economic prospects.
But this study is more about the feasibility of a road and rail link, rather than a canal, referred to by some as a ‘land bridge’.
Reports in August last year quoted Thailand’s transport minister as an advocate of the project stating that as the Straits of Malacca had become “quite congested”, an alternative route was needed to bypass one of the world’s busiest waterways.
The statement by the transport minister referred to the possibility of building two ports in Chumphon and Ranong and connecting them through a network of overland linkages.
According to the minister, the government had earmarked US$5.3 million for a feasibility study to examine the 100km “land bridge” idea with the consultancy appointment the beginning of that process.