Support is growing on home soil for the Thai Canal, a centuries old project better known as the Kra Canal, which would link the South China Sea with the Andaman Sea, negating the need for ships to transit the Malacca Straits on the way to east Asia.
At a conference held in Bangkok earlier this month the backers of the huge infrastructure project claimed they had received 200,000 signatures from academics, associations and citizens in the affected areas who want to see the canal built.
The Thai Canal Association’s favoured route for the waterway, which has been discussed on and off since the 17th century, is from Nakhon Si Thammarat, which faces the Gulf of Thailand, through Phatthalung, Trang and then Krabi onto the Andaman Sea.
The association is trying to raise interest in China to help fund the 135 km long shipping route. The group believes the canal plays into China’s One Belt, One Road infrastructure spending between Asia and Europe, although in recent years Chinese officialdom has distanced itself from the project.
“The canal, along with the prospect of having a new economic zone, should help revive the economy in the south. But a study must be done to see what impact it will have to ensure development proceeds in a balanced way that doesn’t harm the environment or the flourishing tourism industry there,” Chuan Phukaoluan, chief adviser to the governor of Krabi, told the Bangkok Post.