EEC will continue, the government insists

Public investments for the redevelopment of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) will continue as planned, the Thai government said on Friday.

The comments came following concerns over the continuity of government spending on large infrastructure projects after the new economic team is installed. 

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha has already submitted the list of new cabinet members for royal endorsement on Thursday. 

Ratchada Dhnadirek, the deputy government spokesperson, said there has been “great progress” in the construction of infrastructure projects within the EEC and everything will continue to proceed in accordance with the contracts that have been signed. 

She said that even though there were fewer investment applications into the EEC during April and June because of the coronavirus outbreak, the interest from investors is still there. 

She added that investors are still looking to relocate their production bases because of the ongoing trade war between the US and China, and the EEC is one of the locations on their radar. 

There are five megaprojects, worth a total of 695 billion baht, within the EEC including a high-speed railway linking three key airports, an aviation city, a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) center, the third phase of the Laem Chabang seaport, and the third phase of the Map Ta Phut seaport. 

Ratchada has provided a progress report on the following:

  1. The public-private partnership (PPP) agreement on the construction of the High-Speed Rail Linking Three Airports project, which is valued at 224.5 billion baht with a CP-led consortium, was inked on October 2019. The consortium includes CP, Bangkok Expressway and Metro, China Railway Construction Corporation, Ch.Karnchang and Italian-Thai Development.

    Ratchada said related government agencies are already removing underground water pipes and electricity poles for phase one and everything is moving along as planned. However, her comments came after the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) which said on Tuesday that the extension of the high-speed rail link in phase two, valued at 101 billion baht, may not be worth it. The SRT is expected to hand in its entire study on phase two to the cabinet in August and to hand over 72 per cent of estimated lands needed for the project. The project is expected to commercially open in 2024.
  2. The PPP agreement for the development of the U-Tapao Airport and the Eastern Airport City project, which is worth 290 billion baht, was signed with the BBS consortium on June 2020. The consortium includes Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction, Bangkok Airways and BTS Group Holdings.

    The airport city project will cover 6,500 rai including a third passenger terminal, a commercial gateway, a ground transport center, MRO center, cargo and an aviation training center. Ratchada said the project is expected to be complete by 2024.
  3. The PPP agreement on the construction of the Laem Chabang Port phase three, worth 114 billion baht. The project includes the construction of a new pier (Terminal F). Ratchada said a contract is now being drafted with GPC Joint Venture Group which is comprised of PTT Tank Terminal, Gulf Energy Development, and the China Harbor Engineering Company. She said the contract is expected to be signed by August.
  4. The PPP agreement on the construction of Map Ta Phut Port phase three, valued at 55.4 billion baht, was signed with Gulf MTP LNG Terminal on October 2019. Gulf holds 70 per cent of the venture and PTT owns the rest. The first stage of the project is worth 47.9 billion baht and it involves land reclamation and phase one of the LNG terminal.

    Ratchada said the latest progress will cover setting up committees to oversee the project and the contract before the construction can begin. The project is expected to begin its initial period of operations in 2025.

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