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Port Improvements to Boost Thailand's Competitiveness
The government plans to improve logistics at Laem Chabang port to increase the country's export competitiveness and reduce high costs.
Speaking in place of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in her weekly radio broadcast yesterday, Transport Minister Jarupong Ruangsuwan and his deputy Chadchart Sittiphan explained the details of the plan, which came together after Ms Yingluck held a mobile cabinet meeting in the eastern region and inspected logistics in the area.
Mr Jarupong said there are four modes of transport _ road, rail, ship and air. He said about 86% of the country's cargo was transported by road, 12% by ship, 2% by train and 0.02% by air.
Mr Jarupong said ship transport is cheapest, followed by rail and road, while air is the most expensive.
He said the government is now looking to expand the country's rail network with a twin-track system and to introduce high-speed trains to facilitate heavier loads and faster travel. The administration also aims to boost transport by rail from 2% to 4% in the next few years.
Plans also including increasing ship transport from 12% to 14% to cut logistics costs, Mr Jarupong said.
He said Laem Chabang deep sea port in Chon Buri's Bang Lamung district was already serving 5.8 million 20 foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containers annually and port traffic would reach full capacity of 10.8 million TEUs a year in 2019. Laem Chabang port has undergone two phases of development so far and the minister is calling for a third phase of construction.
The proposed expansion will increase the cargo-handling capacity of the port to 18.8 million TEUs per year. That should be sufficient for the country's import and export needs over the next two decades.
At present, the port handles 54% of Thailand's overall exports and imports.
The costs of cargo transportation to and from the port are relatively higher than they are at other ports because roads are the main means of accessing Laem Chabang.
The expansion project includes a new wharf a two kilometre long, 900m wide and 15m deep to serve large vessels directly.
There also plans to construct twin railway tracks that will connect the Northeast to the port and the expansion of roads and gates leading to the port to ease traffic.
The twin track railway from the Northeast will stretch from Kaeng Khoi district of Saraburi province through Chachoengsao province to Laem Chabang, while four roads to the port will be expanded.
The expansion plan is part of a group of projects to connect the eastern seaboard of Thailand to a deep-sea port and industrial estate planned in Dawei city in Myanmar.
Meanwhile, Mr Chadchart said reducing logistics costs is a key to maintaining the country's competitive edge.
He said logistics costs make up 15.2% of GDP, compared to 8.3% in the US.
The government is seeking to reduce these costs to 13.2% of the GDP so as to increase the country's competitiveness. He said the plan is a top priority of the government.