Kra “Canal” Project Gains New Focus and Direction
Talked about and discussed for at least the last 30 years, interest has been rekindled by the Prime Minister of Thailand, Srettha Thavisin who is pitching the projected US$28 billion shipping lane that would bypass Malacca Strait as a “cheaper, faster and safer” way.
The project, when completed in 2030 aims to cut transit by four days on average and lower shipping costs 15 per cent, PM Srettha Thavisin told investors at a San Francisco shipping conference. Foreign investors will be allowed to own more than 50 per cent in joint ventures with local companies in building the ports and related infrastructure.
With traffic volumes projected to exceed the Malacca Strait’s capacity by 2030, the new project will ensure seamless flow of goods, he was quoted as saying in a recent interview.
The 100-kilometre “Landbridge” will have seaports on either side linked by road and rail. The projects would replace a decades-old Thai proposal to dredge a canal through the Kra Isthmus.
The Malacca Strait – a narrow sea lane between Malaysia and Singapore – is the shortest sea route linking the Asia-Pacific region to India and the Middle East.
About a quarter of the world’s traded goods pass through the strait, and it will only become busier, pushing up shipping costs, Mr Srettha said, noting that there are more than 60 maritime accidents a year on average in the passage.
“The Landbridge will be an additional important route to support transportation and an important option for resolving the problems of the Malacca Strait,” he said. “This will be a cheaper, faster and safer route.”
The port on the west will have the capacity to handle 19.4 million TEU, while the eastern one is designed for 13.8 million TEU, together accounting for about 23 per cent of the Port of Malacca’s total cargo, he said.