PHUKET: In an effort to kick-start the stalled Phuket Deep Sea Port expansion project, the head of the local Marine Department Office escorted representatives from two major cruise line companies to a meeting with Governor Tri Augkaradacha on July 12 to discuss the problems encountered by large ships using the facility.
Located at Cape Panwa, the deep sea port has long been criticized as too small to accommodate large vessels, both cargo and passenger, for docking.
Marine Department Region 5 chief Phuripat Theerakulpisuk said the two operators, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Princess Cruises, wanted to see the government get more involved in a project to lengthen the wharf and dredge the seabed offshore.
Chief Phuripat cited one example of a Royal Caribbean Cruise ship, measuring 312 meters long and 38m wide, that is forced to moor about four kilometers from the wharf and ferry its passengers ashore on smaller vessels.
“It’s uncomfortable for passengers,” said Chief Phuripat.
“Royal Caribbean Cruises has come to Phuket three times – once in May and twice in June, bringing 6,000 passengers each time.”
“I truly believe if the port were improved, there would be a lot more ships from across the world arriving on Phuket.”
“Chaophaya Terminal International Co Ltd, who manages the port, is working on a deep sea port development project in order to handle more cruise ships. The plan has been submitted to authorities and is under Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) consideration process,” Mr Phuripat explained.
In December of last year, Mr Phuripat was quoted as saying his office had already been working for more than a year on having the EIA passed.
At the same time, the director of Chaophaya Terminal International Co Ltd, Wathanachai Raunglertpanyakul, lamented that not one local resident had agreed with the Deep Sea Port expansion project, citing environmental damage as a result of the construction.
The concerned parties now want the government to get involved to move the project forward.
— Kritsada Mueanhawong
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