Thailand is toying with its on-again, off-again half-hearted plan to dig a canal across its narrowest strip of land in the south.
The latest iteration of the plan is to build two deep seaports on either side of the country’s southern coasts, and link them via highway and rail over 100km of land, Bloomberg reported.
This is according to Transport Minister Saksiam Chidchob.
The construction of a land passageway would connect the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
If it comes to pass, it will bypass one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes: The Strait of Malacca, which is a narrow sea lane along Peninsular Malaysia’s southwest coast and extending east past Singapore.
The Strait of Malacca is currently the shortest sea route linking the Asia-Pacific region with India and the Middle East.
About a quarter of the world’s traded goods pass through it each year.
Saksiam said the Strait of Malacca is getting overcrowded and another way has to be found.
A passageway over Thailand would cut travel by up to two days.
He said: “Using an alternative route through Thailand would cut shipping time by more than two days, which is very valuable for businesses.”
The 100km “land bridge” would replace an existing proposal to dredge a canal through the isthmus.
The destruction to the environment would be too much if the canal was built, Saksiam said.
The idea for a canal cutting through the nation’s narrowest point and trim the travel distance by 1,200km has been put forward and dismissed several times over the past few decades.
The government has approved a 75 million baht (S$3.3 million) budget for a study to examine the construction of two seaports, Saksiam said.
He also said that another 90 million baht has been set aside to examine highways and rails linking them.