Govt to inject B46bn in river, sea transport upgrades

The government is investing more than 46 billion baht in a project to upgrade and build infrastructure for river and sea transport and increase the country’s competitive edge in trade.

The planned investment seeks to lower the cost of logistics by improving water transport infrastructure with expanded transport links with neighbouring countries in the sub-Mekong region, according to Deputy Transport Minister Pichit Akrathit.

He said the aim of the project, valued at 46.2 billion baht, was to increase the proportion of water transport, currently accounting for 12% of overall domestic freight transport volume, to 17% in 20 years. At the same time, the project aims to limit the cost of domestic transport to no more than 12% per gross domestic product over 20 years.

Mr Pichit said the budget earmarked for investment will deliver a high Economic Internal Rate of Return (EIRR) in the long run. The budget will be spent on the development of water transport along rivers and coasts as well as management policies and incentives to attract private investors to the water transport upgrade and construction plans, such as tax waivers.

Of the budget earmarked for the project, the minister said the lion’s share of around 40 billion baht will go into water transport infrastructure while the rest will pay for the building of new piers, an upgrade of the Songkhla seaport and deepening water courses.

Of the 40 billion baht infrastructure budget, 27 billion baht will be invested in building dams to aid navigation in the Nan and Chao Phraya rivers, two main channels for river transport. Also, 11.1 billion baht will be used to finance the improvement of river transport in the Pasak and the Chao Phraya rivers leading to the sea. Another two billion baht will be set aside for developing the Songkhla seaport.

Mr Pichit said that of the remaining six billion baht allocated for pier construction and the seaport upgrade, 4.4 billion baht will be used to build a pier at the Bangkok Port and a new pier at Laem Chabang Port as well as to upgrade the Songkhla seaport. Also, 83 million baht is set aside for building docks at Samyak Tha Thong and near the Bang Pakong estuary.

The deputy transport minister added another portion of the budget will be provided for dredging shallow sections of water courses in rivers including the Tha Chin, Mae Klong and Bang Pakong.

A request for the budget to finance the water transport infrastructure plans is expected at the end of next month.

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