The Transport Ministry has proposed a 120-billion-baht project over seven years to further expand Laem Chabang port in Chon Buri to ease congestion.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra inspects cars waiting at the dock during her visit to Laem Chabang port in Chon Buri province yesterday. The Transport Ministry has proposed a 120-billion-baht port expansion project, part of a scheme connecting Thailand’s eastern seaboard with Myanmar’s deep sea port in Dawei.
Transport Minister Jarupong Ruangsuwan proposed the project during a briefing to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who was visiting the port yesterday.
The minister said the port was already serving 5.6 million 20ft equivalent units (TEUs) of containers annually and port traffic would reach full capacity of 10.8 million TEUs a year in 2019.
Laem Chabang port has undergone two phases of development so far and the minister is calling for a third phase of construction.
The proposed expansion will increase the cargo-handling capacity of the port to 18.8 million TEUs per year and that should be sufficient for import and export needs over the next two decades.
At present, the port handles 54% of Thailand’s exports and imports.
Ten percent of imports and exports are transported through border crossings, 13% through the Bangkok port and 24% through Suvarnabhumi airport.
The costs of cargo transportation to and from the port are relatively higher than those at other ports because roads are the main means of gaining access to Laem Chabang.
Under the expansion project, the new wharf will be 2km long, 900m wide and 15m deep, allowing it to serve large vessels directly.
The project includes the construction of twin railway tracks that will connect the Northeast to the port and the expansion of roads and gates leading to the port to help solve the current bottleneck in traffic.
The Laem Chabang port expansion plan is part of a group of projects to connect the eastern seaboard of Thailand to a deep-sea port and industrial estate planned in Dawei city in Myanmar.
Deputy Transport Minister Chatchart Sithiphan said roads accounted for 92% of existing means of access to Laem Chabang port.
He said the twin track railway from the Northeast will stretch from Kaeng Khoi district of Saraburi province through Chachoengsao province to Laem Chabang.
The government plans to complete the project within three years.
He said improving road access to the port is also important.
Four roads to the port will be expanded and a motorway from Pattaya to Laem Chabang built.
Chalermkiat Salukkum, managing director of the seafront Laem Chabang port, said the third-phase port project will require land reclamation and authorities are assessing the potential environmental impact of the project in collaboration with local people.
He said the Chon Buri governor has formed three committees to conduct an environmental impact assessment and they will work out solutions to minimise or prevent the environmental damage as a result of the port expansion.
Chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries Payungsak Chartsuthipol said after the meeting between the private sector and the government in Chon Buri that the private sector asked the government to speed up the process of approving manufacturing operations in Map Ta Phut.
He said the private sector has adjusted procedures to meet the health and environment safety requirements but state agencies’ process in giving the projects the go-ahead has been slow, particularly the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.
There remain four manufacturing projects with a total investment cost of more than 10 billion baht pending approval, he said.