Thailand is assessing a massive land bridge project in the country's south, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on Tuesday, involving estimated investments worth one trillion baht (US$27.44 billion or RM130.15 billion), which would help boost growth and global trade.
Bidding and construction would begin in 2025, and create 280,000 jobs in the southern provinces of Ranong and Chumpon, a government study showed, with the state-planning agency estimating the project could raise economic growth to 5.5% annually. Thailand's economy is forecast to grow 2.8% this year, and 4.4% next year.
"It will be an important connector for logistics for transporting goods between India, the Middle East, and Africa," he told reporters during a visit to Beijing to attend the Belt and Road Forum.
Thailand's new government, which came into power in August, is assessing the ambitious project, which would involve building two deep-sea ports and 90km of road and rail connecting transport between the Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand. It would bypass the congested Strait of Malacca, a narrow sea lane between Malaysia and Indonesia.
"Having a land bridge makes [investors] more interested," he said, as the government bids to spur investments and stimulate economic growth.
The government plans to meet potential investors for the project in November.
"The land bridge will reduce transport time and cost, avoiding congestion from the Strait of Malacca... incentivizing transport operators to use this route," the government statement said.
The first phase of the project is expected to be completed in 2030 and would see container shipment capacity of 10 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) with a full capacity of 40 million TEUs in 2039.