The Thai cabinet approved 6.6 billion baht on Tuesday for the construction of two bridges, over Songkhla Lake to link Krasae Sin district with Khao Chaison district of Phatthalung, and the other to connect Lanta and Lanta Noi islands in the Andaman Sea, in the southern province of Krabi.
The first project, when completed, will reduce the travel distance between the two spots to 7km, from about 80km, and cut the travel time down to about 15 minutes, from the current two hours.
The cost of the project is estimated at 4.841 billion baht, 70% of which will be a loan, to be secured from the World Bank under the public debt management plan, and the remaining 30% will be government funded. Construction is scheduled to commence in 2023 and be completed in three years.
The new bridge will be new logistics and tourism routes for southern provinces, linking the three southern provinces of Songkhla, Phatthalung and Trang. It will help promote tourism in areas around Songkhla Lake and in neighbouring provinces and ease traffic flow on the highway between Songkhla and Phatthalung.
The Cabinet has made clear, however, that an environmental impact assessment must be conducted first, to make sure that the bridge project will not negatively impact the fish conservation zone, which is only about six kilometres from the proposed site of the bridge.
The World Bank, the proposed source of the loan for the project, has also expressed concern over potential impacts on the zone, according to a government source.
The bridge linking Lanta and Lanta Noi islands will be 1.92km long. The cost is estimated at about 1.8 billion baht and construction is expected to commence next year, with completion in three years.
Currently, travel by vehicle between Lanta and Lanta Noi islands is by ferry. Although the distance from the mainland to Lanta Noi Island is only 1.53km, it can take 1-2 hours, because the ferries are small and can only accommodate a few cars at a time. High and low tides also pose problems for the ferry service