A report in the Straits Times Vietnam is set to build a US$2.5 billion seaport in Ca Mau, its southernmost province, hoping to steal some spotlight away from the more popular regional hubs Singapore and Malaysia and could be a clue to Kra Canal.
Vietnam announced that it would build a US$2.5 billion deep-water seaport, named Hon Khoai Port, on an island 17km off the coast of Ca Mau, Vietnam’s southern-most province. The project was approved by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
The decision to build the portdoes not really make complete economic sense – until it is superimposed on the potentially heady commercial traffic the Kra Canal stands to provide.
On the surface, any link between Hon Khoai Port and the Kra Canal – which various quarters of the Thai political and business elite would like to see built – would not seem apparent. This is because the deliberation over the port has been couched within the larger issue of Vietnam’s decision to increase its coal imports to meet growing energy needs.
The project has undergone two different configurations, but both set-ups cater to commodities beyond coal.
Thailand’s Kra Canal megaproject, a 100-kilometre long waterway linking the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman sea coast, would save time and fuel for international shipping which currently must go through the increasingly crowded Straits of Malacca.
The Kra Canal would not only transform Thailand into a regional maritime centre that could trump the Singaporean and Malaysian port hubs along the Malacca Strait. It would also serve as a critical artery of China’s Maritime Silk Road, now part of the country’s “one belt, one road” blueprint.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative will gradually reshape Eurasia, but within this grand vision of a new Silk Road, it is the construction of the Kra Canal in southern Thailand that could have the greatest impact, say local media.
No official announcement has been made on the realization of this gigantic infrastructure project, but some analysts and business insiders are expressing support for a waterway that would connect the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand at the latitude of the Kra Isthmus, the narrowest part of the Malay Peninsula in southern Thailand.