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Thailand : Kra Isthmus Canal

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  • Thailand : Kra Isthmus Canal

    Ranong private sector call for Kra Isthmus Canal project revival

    RANONG, Aug 27 -- Private business interests in Thailand's southern province of Ranong is proposing a revived 'Thai Canal,' or Kra Isthmus Canal project to Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha for consideration.

    Nit Ouitekkeng, advisor to the chair of the Ranong Chamber of Commerce, said that the chamber, the industrial council and the tourism association of Ranong will call for the revival of the project for the new government to consider.

    Mr Nit said that many governments had considered the project but finally shelved it. He said it was a mega-project that would benefit the national economy.

    He claimed the project was stalled due to the political problems.

    Mr Nit said that the Kra Canal would be a shortcut between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and Thailand would become an important location of transport between both oceans.

    The project would lead to industrial and commercial development in southern Thailand, he said.

    He referred to new deep-sea ports, electric railways, east-west highways, refineries, oil depots, and water and power supply facilities.

    The Thai Canal, formerly known as Kra Canal or Kra Isthmus Canal, refers to a plan for a large canal that would cut through southern Thailand at Ranong province to enable improved transportation in the region.

  • #2
    "Lazarus, come forth," and Lazarus came forth, alive, and was again among his friends.


    • #3
      Might not be a bad idea

      Then just let Suthepland float off


      • #4
        I think it is a great idea. Have the french and British and even the mericans build it then they can create a zone and create their own new Suez crisis or Canal zone for 100 years.


        • #5
          Thailand ponders digging Kra Isthmus - again!
          Kavi Chongkittavorn
          March 30, 2015

          No issue in Thailand's history has generated such a long and inconclusive debate as the one surrounding the fate of Kra Isthmus. For the past 358 years, since the time of King Narai (1633-1688) when it was first raised with France, the desire to dig the country's small 50-kilometre strip of land down south continues unabated and peppered with John le Carre-liked conspiracy.

          This time around, the Kra Canal project has been revived with powerful supporters. The Thai-Chinese Culture and Economic Association of Thailand (TCCEAT) has proposed that the National Reform Council (NRC) conduct a feasibility study on linking the Adaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. After the NRC began its deliberation in October last year, the project was quickly tabled.

          Since then it has become one of the most dominant topics but it has been discreetly discussed and heavily lobbied by influential people in and outside the government. One of the 18 NRC committees which oversee the strategies related to agriculture, industry, service, tourism and connectivity is likely to give the green light for the proposed study, which is expected to be completed in just 10 months.

          Most of the arguments made by politicians, economists, the military and the strategic community have been focused on two aspects: the economic benefits and the various security implications. It is longer about the cost or obstacles of digging a long canal and the overall environment implications.

          All agreed that the financial rewards due to the exponential growth of global trade in the next two decades and beyond will increase many fold with the combined rise of China and India, not to mention Africa's recent economic growth. The demand for energy will continue to fuel further industrialisation and growth in Asia. These are the reasons used by the supporters pushing for a new shipping route linking the Indian and Pacific oceans.

          Since most of the Asian trade transactions are carried out through sea transportation, the Kra Canal would cut costs and reduce the transportation time by two to three days.

          At the moment, the shipping lane through the Malacca Straits is getting congested. Since the September 9/11 tragedy, dangers from pirates, maritime terrorism, accidents and insurance fees have also increased. Alternative shipping routes have been actively sorted for instance in the Northern Arctic circle and Indonesian maritime zone.

          The Kra Canal's proponents believe that the project could be done and would turnaround Thailand's economic slump and turn the country into a global shipping and economic hub rivalling the Panama Canal, beyond what has been envisaged in the Master Plan of Asean Connectivity (2015).

          As part of the land connectivity, India, Myanmar and Thailand have already built a highway linking the three countries from Manipur, India to Dawei, Myanmar forward to Laem Chabang, Chon Buri which will be completed next year. This network will connect to Laos, Vietnam and the rest of Southeast Asian archipelago.

          With or without the Kra Canal, through India's Act East Policy any physical linkages, land or sea, would propel the country's economic growth along the eastern coast and further modernise economic hinder lands in its northwestern region. For China, alternative transportation routes - safe and secure in a trusted country - are the most imperative and desirable. Doubtless, plenty of Chinese state enterprises and investors are waiting enthusiastically.

          However, once the discussion switches to security and strategic aspects, there is a strong psychological cul-de-sac. Unlike the private sector, the Thai security apparatus still views any partition of the Golden Axe (khwan thong) - the shape of Thailand - as unacceptable.

          It is quite interesting to stress that the symbolic separation between the mainland and its southern part is more potent than previously suspected when compared to the demand for autonomy in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat. Some leading business personalities said that the prospects of economic development and the future peace process could further mitigate the negative impact that is visible today. Increased connectivity and shared prosperity in the future should weaken further the threat of separatism.

          Although the views within the Thai armed forces are mosaic, the Thai Royal Navy is much more open about the Kra Canal project. It has conducted several studies on the pros and cons of such an endeavours. Armed with a new maritime doctrine, the Navy is looking for new weapon systems including submarines to increase its maritime defence capacity on the Adaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.

          The debate over the Kra Isthmus has been going on for such a long period because of concerns influential personalities have in the economic and security areas. This time, the three TCCEAT members leading the debate also belong to the NRC committee that oversees the country's strategy on connectivity. The high number of feasibility studies involved has also kept the issue alive.

          One of the most famous reports was done by a senatorial committee in 1998. It recommended that the Kra canal project should be moved further southward away from Ranong. The proposed 120-kilometre route cutting through the sparsely populated provinces of Krabi, Phatthalung, Nakon Si Thammarat, Songkhla and Trang is still considered the most suitable. It is further away from both the Thai-Myanmar and Thai-Malaysian borders.

          Further studies are required on the strategic implications of having a new international shipping hub in a country with a reputation of political uncertainty and turmoil - which could easily turn into a hub of war.

          With heighten major power competition as well as Asean members such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam giving top priority to maritime security, it remains to be seen how this archaic idea will play itself out under the current government and the international community at large.


          • #6
            Memo Thailand :

            In case you haven't noticed the game has been changed ......................



            • #7
              China denies official involvement in Thailand canalOriental Daily claimed that Chinese and Thai officials had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Guangzhou for the ambitious project.

              But according to a report on the website of state newspaper China DailyOriental Daily


              • #8
                Renewed hype over China-Thai canal project: 5 things about the Kra Canal
                Chew Hui Min
                May 21, 2015

                Will the Kra Canal ever be built, or is it just a pipe dream?

                The idea of building a canal through the Kra Isthmus came up hundreds of years ago, and it has been resurrected many times since.

                Chinese media reported this week that two organisations - the China-Thailand Kra Infrastructure Investment and Development, and Asia Union Group - had signed a memorandum of understanding to construct the canal, but the Chinese government quickly said it was not involved in the project.

                If the canal materialises, Singapore will certainly be impacted as ships will be able to bypass Singapore's port and the Straits of Malacca.

                Here is more about the elusive canal:

                1. What is the Kra Canal?

                The Kra Canal would cut through Thailand's Kra Isthmus, the narrowest neck of South Thailand, connecting the Gulf of Thailand with the Andaman Sea.

                Approximately 102km long, it could take eight to 10 years to build. Current estimates put building costs at about US$28 billion (S$37 billion).

                Skipping Singapore and Peninsula Malaysia, ships could cut up to 72 hours of sailing time or 1,200km in distance.

                They will also be able to avoid the congested Straits of Malacca, which has seen increased pirate activity in recent years.

                2. A project with 400 years of history

                The idea was first mooted by Siamese King Narai as far back as 1677.

                Every so often the idea resurfaces, for example in the 1870s, after the Suez Canal demonstrated that a man-made canal was viable.

                The 1946 Anglo-Thai treaty forbade the Siamese government from building such a canal without prior agreement of the British government.

                The British deemed the canal a threat to the dominance of Singapore - then a British colony - as a regional shipping hub.

                The idea was revived in the 1950s and the 1970s, and the thread was picked up in the 1980s by the Japanese. It made an appearance every decade or so, and often when a new administration comes into power in Thailand.

                As China's economy boomed, the Thais have turned to the Chinese to lend support the project.

                Proponents of the project continue to push for it. Last year, businessman Pakdee Tanapura, a member of a Kra Canal Committee, told The Straits Times that the canal could be part of China's Maritime Silk Route,which is aimed at improving connectivity and trade through the South China Sea.

                3. Impact on Singapore

                The waterway is likely to reduce the number of ships travelling through Singapore. The maritime industry contributed about 7 per cent to Singapore's GDP in 2014.

                But some experts say the impact may be limited.

                Dr Li Zhenfu from Dalian Maritime University said: "Distance is important but ships have to consider services and facilities as well. The foundation and reputation that Singapore's port has built up cannot be replicated immediately."

                4. Impact for Thailand and China

                Thailand's economy could do with a boost from such a project, and potential benefits include port fees, tolls, foreign investment and infrastructure developments around the region.

                For China, the shorter route would mean time and cost savings when importing oil from Africa and the Middle East. It could give a boost to China's ports in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

                5. Why it may never happen

                Analysts say that for the cost of building the canal, the savings of around 72 hours for ships is not significant enough.

                The Panama Canal cuts about 12,000km off a journey by bypassing South America, while the Suez took 10,000km off a trip between Europe and South Asia.

                There are also environmental consequences and security considerations for the Kra Canal.

                Many in the Thai establishment would not be happy with a canal that appears to separate the country's four southernmost provinces from the rest of the country.

                The provinces have historically resisted Bangkok's rule and are torn by separatist insurgency.

                If these obstacles were overcome, questions such as what to do with the tonnes of soil excavated and where to relocate millions of people who live along the proposed site still have to answered.



                • #9
                  Thailand: Proposals for massive new canal to speed up shipping and avoid pirates
                  Peter Carty
                  June 6, 2015

                  Suez Canal: There are plans for a counterpart in Thailand

                  Engineers have produced a plan to build a canal across Thailand so that shipping can cross south-east Asia more swiftly, as well as bypassing pirates in the Strait of Malacca.

                  The Korean Railway Research Institute has drawn up a blueprint for a "rail canal" across the narrowest part of Thailand, to link the Indian Oceanshipping lanes, seeing 60,000 vessel passages annually.

                  A quarter of the world's commercial freight passes through it, including around 80% of China's oil imports.

                  The proposed route crosses Thailand's Kra Isthmus, between Kra Buri on the west coast to Chumpon on the east.

                  Jinyu Choi, the director general of the Korean Railway Research Institute, is set to present the proposal to Prajin Juntong, Thailand's transport minister, in August.

                  However, the scheme is only the latest of a lengthy line stretching as far back as 1677.

                  They include a project put forward in 1882 by Ferdinand de Lesseps, who built the Suez Canal.

                  So far they have all failed, for two main reasons.

                  The Isthmus's elevated and undulating terrain would require very extensive excavation efforts.

                  And Thailand's long running political instability is a strong deterrent

                  Moreover, the current scheme is raising diplomatic hackles.

                  China has declared the project to be part of its projected "maritime Silk Road".

                  This development has caused concern in the US, where politicians are apprehensive of China's growing geopolitical influence.

                  The US's naval bases in Singapore mean it retains strong strategic leverage in the region for the time being.



                  • #10
                    It made an appearance every decade or so, and often when a new administration comes into power in Thailand.
                    Who are promptly paid off by Singapore.


                    • #11

                      A Thai Canal Could Be The Answer To China's Energy Concerns
                      Prom Vikitsreth

                      What does Thailand have in common with Egypt and Panama? They are all blessed by their geographical positions that, if cut across, can become a short and direct route linking two strategic points of maritime trade. The quickest connection between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea was once blocked by Egypt; the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean by Panama; and the Indian and Pacific Ocean is currently blocked by Thailand.

                      But what makes Thailand different from these countries? It has failed to capitalize on this advantage along with the ensuing benefits from building a waterway through the country: the creation of job opportunities, the development into an international transport hub, and the prospect of becoming a player on the global scene.

                      Even though the debate has been ongoing in Thailand for decades, it was reenergized late last year following the decision by Nicaragua (a fellow geographically-blessed state) to construct a canal through its countryAsiaAccording to the US Energy Information Agency,With the minimum width of 27 milesenergy


                      • #12

                        News Flash , there is already an under utilised pipeline through Burma


                        • #13

                          Graham Ong-Webb
                          Friday, September 4th, 2015Enter the Vietnam angle?Catering to non-coal importsCritical artery for China*Graham Ong-Webb is a Research Fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. This appeared earlier in The Straits Times.



                          • #14
                            Wasn't the annexation of the southern provinces by UK to be awarded to Thailand done to prevent such a canal?
                            Ward of Lore


                            • #15
                              ASEAN infrastructure

                              Calls for Kra Isthmus shortcut grow in Thailand
                              YASUMASA SHIMIZU
                              December 2, 2015

                              A local points to a swath of land where the now-defunct Second Thai-Burma Railway cut through the southern Thai province of Ranong.

                              BANGKOK -- The Kra Isthmus, the narrowest part of the Malay Peninsula in southern Thailand, is drawing attention as a potentially important gateway for transporting goods across Southeast Asia ahead of the planned year-end launch of the ASEAN Economic Community.

                              The creation of the AEC is certain to expand trade in the region, and building a transport shortcut linking the Andaman Sea with the Gulf of Thailand would help goods move more efficiently. Calls are growing for reviving a long-defunct railway built across the isthmus by the Japanese military during World War II.

                              "I've long dreamed of seeing another railway built here," said an 86-year-old man living in the southern province of Ranong. He said he helped the Japanese military survey the land for the Kra Isthmus Railway, also known as the Second Thai-Burma Railway.

                              The narrowest part of the Malay Peninsula -- between the ports of Chumphon on the Gulf of Thailand and Ranong along the Andaman Sea -- is just 50km across. From the Port of Ranong, boats can travel up the Kraburi River to Kawthaung, a town on the southernmost tip of Myanmar.

                              In addition to the original Thai-Burma Railway, which ran through central Thailand, the Japanese military built the Kra Isthmus Railway to transport ammunition and other military supplies from Japan to Burma -- now called Myanmar -- and other destinations during the war. Some 30,000 workers were mobilized for the project, which took just six months to complete.

                              Decades later, the area is once again in the spotlight, as the impending economic integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is expected to increase the movement of goods in the region.

                              The Port of Ranong is ideally situated for exporting foodstuffs and other goods to a rapidly developing Myanmar, Ranong Gov. Suriyan Kanjanasilp said.

                              The idea of building a railroad has popular public support. One reason for that is because the pre-existing path carved out by the old railway means costs would be held down. One estimate puts the figure at 7 billion baht ($198 million). The provincial government has submitted a railway plan for approval by the central government.

                              Another idea is to carve out a canal so that goods could be shipped directly across the peninsula without having to be unloaded. It would also mean tankers could sail from the Middle East to Japan and other destinations without having to make the more time-conuming journey through the Strait of Malacca.

                              The concept of building a canal there has been kicked around since the 17th century. More recently, the idea has failed to gain traction due to opposition from neighboring countries -- especially Singapore, which does not want to lose shipping business.

                              Despite tapering to a svelte 50km at its narrowest point, the Kra Isthmus is bumpy terrain and would make for tough, costly digging. Building a canal there would produce a bill estimated at $24 billion to $32 billion, a sum the Thai government would probably balk at.

                              More economically realistic would be to build a railway along with the four-lane roadway. But with Thailand's military-led government cutting back on infrastructure spending, that may be a tall order. The Ministry of Transport has already expressed skepticism, with an official there questioning whether the project's returns would justify its cost.

                              After being completed in December 1943, the Second Thai-Burma Railway operated for less than 18 months before being destroyed by Allied air raids. Although seven decades have since passed, proponents of reviving the line will probably have to keep waiting.



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