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Ships want a shortcut: Studies to start on Thai canal and land bridge

Caitlin Ashworth

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Ships want a shortcut: Studies to start on Thai canal and land bridge | Thaiger
Strait of Malacca

Thailand could actually sliced in half by a canal right across the Malay Peninsula, linking the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. Proposals have been in the works for hundreds of years, but now the idea is popping up again, and alternatives, as shipping companies try and find ways to cut their costs.

The Thai government plans to hold public hearings and start feasibility studies on the Thai Canal, also known as the 9A canal route. A land bridge has also being discussed as another shipping route shortcut, linking new seaports at both ends of the land bridge.

10 million baht has been set aside in the fiscal 2021 budget for hearings and studies on the canal project as well as a double track railway link between Chumphon (on the Gulf of Thailand) and Ranong (on the Andaman Sea), according to National Economic and Social Development Council secretary general Thosaporn Sirisamphand. He says the hearings will begin in October, the start of the 2021 fiscal year.

The Thai Canal is part of the Kra Canal project, which has been talked about for centuries. A canal would go through the skinniest point in the southern peninsula to allow ships to cut through Thailand rather than sailing all the way around Singapore island at the bottom of the peninsula, and squeezing through the busy (and sometimes dangerous) Strait of Malacca. The proposed canal would cut out about 1,200 kilometres off the shipping journey. A possible cost for the shortcut is about 28 billion baht.

The Kra or ‘Thai’ canal would work in exactly the same was as the Panama Canal, linking two bodies of water and providing an economic shortcut for ships.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha had also ordered the National Economic and Social Development Board and the Office of the National Security Council to look into the project back in 2018. Government officials under former PM Thaksin Shinawatra also set up a committee to conduct a feasibility study on the canal project, but the plan was scrapped in 2006 when the administration was overthrown in a military coup.

The Thai Canal Association has pushed for the project over the past few years. Many members of the association are retired generals, politicians and prominent executives with Chinese ties.

A 100 kilometre land bridge is also being studied. It would link seaports at the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea by highway and railway. Earlier this week, Prayut ordered for a new feasibility study on the land bridge proposal. But some critics say the land bridge proposal is unfeasible due to the increased handling costs which would override any economic or time savings of the shortcut.

There has been plenty of controversy around the land bridge idea. Port & Free Zone Global Expert, Tony Restall (aka Mr. Free Zone), called the proposal a “joke” and “beyond logical thinking.” Tony says there would be a number of extra handling costs and there would be no valid gain.

“To save what? 1-2 days sailing time around Singapore and through the Malacca Straits? Not only is it a completely ill-conceived idea, the numbers will never stack up and the vessel operators would never even consider it viable.”

Ships want a shortcut: Studies to start on Thai canal and land bridge | News by Thaiger

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Issan John

    Friday, September 11, 2020 at 10:47 am

    … yawn ….

    • Avatar

      mickenos

      Friday, September 11, 2020 at 4:27 pm

      It looks like thailand is going to have to choose. A canal for Chinese war ships. Or friendship of United States.

      • Avatar

        Rinky Stingpiece

        Friday, September 11, 2020 at 11:43 pm

        Most countries are, but really, talk of the sleeping dragon awakening seem a little overdone.

        I don’t know why the Thaiger keep pushing this one, unless it’s just for clickbait.

        It takes about a day for a ship to get through a canal this long, and they have to go in one a time from one direction or the other. For the amount of time it might save, you may as well put wheels on them and drive them over the isthmus; or wings and fly them over.

        Whilst we’re in the realms of sci-fi engineering projects, why not build a giant tunnel, and put each robot ship inside a capsule and suck them through the isthmus?

        Better still… a catapult…

        or even.. a giant conveyer belt where the containers are loaded off one ship and onto another one on the other side?

        For oil tankers, just connect them up either side with a long straight pipe through the middle and suck the cargo through.

        Even better, make a ship 1,200km wide with wheels on stilts, and it could drive over Sumatra, Java, and then sprout helicopter wings and fly over Borneo.

        Or maybe have giant hovercrafts to race across Satun and past Hat Yai.

        Or, or, or, flying saucers, why are we still using ships? flying saucers could float on the sea and go in any direction…

        so many better ideas that wrecking the environment like this to become debt slaves of China.

  2. Avatar

    Paul

    Friday, September 11, 2020 at 8:26 pm

    9a is a route where economic benefits are less, but political influence from current politicians is high. There are better ways, and no, that is not to ALSO build a land bridge.
    Avoid Chinese influences and develop the canals environment. That will breed success.

  3. Avatar

    Ron

    Saturday, September 12, 2020 at 8:42 am

    Will the new Thai submarines be able to use the canal.

  4. Avatar

    RR

    Sunday, September 13, 2020 at 3:41 am

    Satun – Songhkla along route 406 would be the best option

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Aviation authority calling for 20,000 vaccine doses for crew, ground staff

Maya Taylor

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Aviation authority calling for 20,000 vaccine doses for crew, ground staff | Thaiger
PHOTO: Christian Junker on Flickr

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand is calling for vaccine doses to protect around 20,000 airline crew and ground staff before the country re-opens to international tourists. The CAAT says it’s vital that those working in the aviation industry are protected and has submitted its request to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

According to Suthipong Kongpool from the CAAT, there are around 20,000 airline employees, including crew and ground staff, who will need to be vaccinated. As 2 doses are required, a total of 40,000 doses are needed to fully protect staff. The Bangkok Post reports that the CAAT will meet on Thursday to review the aviation sector’s readiness for when the country re-opens without international arrivals having to quarantine.

Suthipong says they are seeking enough vaccine doses to protect employees of Thai-registered carriers.

“It’s a confidence-building measure for tourists and those providing the services to them.”

From July, the southern island of Phuket will be the first part of the country to waive quarantine for vaccinated international arrivals, subject to 70% of local residents being vaccinated. The “sandbox” project is a pilot programme that will be expanded to other areas if it proves successful. Between October and the end of the year, 5 other provinces – Phang Nga, Surat Thani, Krabi, Chon Buri, and Chiang Mai – are expected to adopt the programme. Officials hope to be able to re-open the country fully from January 2022.

According to the CAAT, the first foreign visitors expected to return to Phuket will be Chinese tourists, given that country’s success in managing the pandemic. Meanwhile, the CAAT says Thailand will see a 7% increase in air traffic this month compared to last, with a total of 36,150 domestic and international flights.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Business

Labour union angry over changes to Thai Airways staff contracts under rehab plan

Maya Taylor

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Labour union angry over changes to Thai Airways staff contracts under rehab plan | Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

Union representatives are questioning changes made to the employment terms of Thai Airways staff as part of the national carrier’s debt-restructuring plan. The labour union claims the changes have removed or diluted several staff entitlements and welfare benefits, pointing the finger at acting president, Chansin Treenuchagron, who signed the orders.

The union is calling on the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare to review the changes to check if they align with a debt-restructuring plan submitted to the Central Bankruptcy Court. According to a Bangkok Post report, the union believes the signed orders may go against the terms of the rehab plan currently being reviewed by creditors. They include an order related to the company’s new organisational structure, as well as the screening of workers who will continue to be employed by the carrier during and after the rehab process.

Union representatives accuse the airline of changing the terms and conditions of employee contracts, meaning weaker welfare benefits. They are asking the DLPW to confirm if the changes comply with the 1940 Bankruptcy Act, the 1975 Labour Relations Act, and the 1998 Labour Protection Act. The union says that if the changes are found to violate the acts, Chansin should be ordered to cancel the orders and draw up new employment terms that comply with the airline’s rehab plan and with employment law.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Leader of Thai cryptocurrency exchange warns regulators about tight restrictions

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Leader of Thai cryptocurrency exchange warns regulators about tight restrictions | Thaiger
Stock photo by André François McKenzie for Unsplash

The co-founder of Thailand’s largest cryptocurrency exchange has slammed regulators for plans to set requirements that would limit who can trade cryptocurrency. Following a drastic spike in domestic crypto trading, Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission, decided to look into tighter restrictions and say traders will be soon required to have experience, be educated in trading or pass an exam.

Too many regulations will push some Thais away, according to 33 year old Atichanan Pulges, co-founder and CFO of Bitkub. He warns that too many restrictions might drive amateur traders to unregulated international platforms in other countries.

Atichanan told Bloomberg that these restrictions will do little to stem the increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies in Thailand. The SEC’s restrictions were proposed in response to an unprecedented surge in crypto trading beginning in November 2020. According to the SEC’s own data, crypto-trading in Thailand jumped six fold from 18 billion baht in November to 124 billion baht in February. Bitkub themselves reported a daily turnover of 4.2 billion baht throughout February, a jump of nearly 40% from the previous month.

Thai authorities continue to struggle with the increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies, as they strive to balance embracing innovation with protecting investors. The SEC recently walked back potential restrictions which would have limited crypto purchases to those with a minimum income of 1 million baht after public backlash. Instead, they’ve proposed a program to educate potential investors of the risks involved in investing in the notoriously volatile crypto market.

Undeterred by any potential regulations, Bitkub – who claim to host around 90% of crypto trading in Thailand – have announced plans to expand over the coming year, aiming to double their current staff to 500 and introduce their own debit card. The company is also aiming to achieve the coveted ‘unicorn’ status (a private valuation of more than $1 billion) at some point in the near future.

SOURCE: Bloomberg

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