Senior officials have underscored the Thai government’s clear rejection of plans to build a canal crossing the Kra Isthmus in southern Thailand.
“It won’t happen because it’s not feasible,” Chula Sukmanop, then-director general of the Marine Department told IHS Maritime.
The second problem is the cost of the project fails to bring sufficient returns although if built it would make Asia-Europe shipping routes three to five days faster by cutting out the need to go via Singapore and its congested waters.
“The cost of investment when we consider the return is not [worth it],” Sukmanop added.
However, Sukmanop said there would be another plan to boost investment at ports on the southern coasts, the Andaman Sea on the west, and the Gulf of Thailand on the east, and connect them with land infrastructure to allow goods to move across Thailand.
“There is going to be a railway,” Sukmanop said. Plans for a rail network connecting the two ports, Satun on the Andaman and Songkhla on the Gulf of Thailand had been submitted with an environmental impact assessment for the project pending, he added.
Sukmanop’s remarks follow a statement on the official news agency National News Bureau of Thailand (NNT) that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had “brushed aside rumours” of a Thailand-China deal to build a canal through the Kra Isthmus.
“No bilateral talks have ever been held on the matter,” the statement added.
Thai foreign minister Tanasak Patimapragorn also dismissed the idea. “[He] confirmed that Thailand and China have never discussed the matter on a bilateral basis, adding that the government would need to consider it with the utmost discretion should it ever be proposed,” NNT added.