Trillion-baht gamble: Deputy minister defends Land Bridge project

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

In a heated defence yesterday, Deputy Transport Minister Manaporn Charoensri championed the government’s ambitious 1-trillion-baht Land Bridge project, which she claims has sparked considerable interest from foreign investors.

Her statement came in response to sharp criticisms from former Democrat leader Samart Ratchapolsitte, who cast doubt on the project’s cost-effectiveness and feasibility. Despite his scepticism, Manaporn insists the initiative is attracting serious international attention.

“Over 30 companies, including the Chinese giant China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), have shown interest during Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit’s recent visit to China.

“Japanese investors are also keen, sending representatives to assess the project’s potential.”

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These investors are expected to commit formally once the Southern Economic Corridor (SEC) law is finalised. Manaporn assured that the Transport Ministry aims to complete the SEC law by the fourth quarter of this year, with investment invitations slated for the end of 2025.

The Land Bridge project, designed to connect the Pacific and Indian Oceans via deep-sea ports in Chumphon and Ranong, is just one of several grand investment schemes the government is promoting. However, critics have raised concerns about the environmental impact, financial burden, and lengthy timeline, with the first phase not expected to finish until 2030.

Kritchanon Aiyapanya, assistant minister attached to the Transport Ministry, countered Samart’s criticisms, arguing they misrepresent the project’s viability and could mislead both investors and the public, reported Bangkok Post.

“The project has undergone extensive studies. Multiple agencies have confirmed that it will significantly reduce travel time and costs, providing a strategic alternative to the congested Strait of Malacca.”

Kritchanon added that interest isn’t limited to Asia. Potential investors from the United States, Europe, and the Middle East are also eyeing the project, signalling global confidence in its prospects.

In related news, Minister Suriya led a delegation to China to explore further developments concerning the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway project and advocate for the 1 trillion baht (US$27 billion) Land Bridge megaproject.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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