In an effort to reduce shipping traffic on the Strait of Malacca, Thailand is planning to construct a 100-kilometre-long land passageway that would link the Indian and Pacific Oceans, bypassing the already congested sea lane.
The strait, a narrow sea lane between Malaysia and Singapore, is one of the world's busiest shipping routes. Currently, it is the shortest sea route connecting the Asia-Pacific region with India and the Middle East, Bloomberg reported.
"The Strait has become quite congested," Thailand's Transport Minister Saksiam Chidchob said in an interview with Bloomberg News last week.
"Using an alternative route through Thailand would cut shipping time by more than two days, which is very valuable for businesses," he added.
Each year, around a quarter of the world's traded goods, pass through the Strait of Malacca.
Thailand is looking to construct two deep seaports on either side of the country's southern coasts and connect them via highway and rail, Saksiam said. The "land bridge" would replace an existing proposal to dredge a canal through the isthmus, which would lead to environmental degradation, according to the minister.
This idea of developing a canal that would transverse the country's narrowest point and cut travel distance by 1,200 kilometres was put forward and rejected several times over the last few decades.
The Thai government has approved a 75 million baht budget for a study to look into the construction of two seaports and another 90 million baht to examine highways and rails linking them, Saksiam was quoted as saying.
( With inputs from ANI )
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