The Ministry of Transport has ordered the Marine Department to conduct a new environment and health impacts assessment (EHIA) study of the controversial Pak Bara deep-see port project in Satun province within six months.
Deputy Transport Minister Pairin Chuchotethavorn told the media after chairing a meeting of to discuss the project on Monday (Feb 19) that he told the Marine Department to attach importance to the issue about forging better understanding with the local people about the project.
An informed Marine Department source said that the Transport Ministry had ordered the 29-billion-baht project to be suspended due to stiff resistance from local people and environmental groups who are concerned that the project will threaten the livelihood of the people who rely on fishing as their means of occupation whereas the tourism sector also expressed concern that the project may ruin the tourism business.
The source said that the Marine Department was unable to wrap up the EHIA report as it is still short of public input through public hearings and the department will have to undertake a public assessment report.
Meanwhile, it was reported that the ministry may ponder public-private-partnership (PPP) format for the Pak Bara project instead of having the government to be the sole investor of the project.
However, the source noted that if the private sector is to co-invest in the project, it needs to have skills in this area and has massive financial support, adding that if the project is to be scrapped, Thailand may lose its competitiveness in marine logistics to neighbouring Malaysia.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (ThaiPBS)