Thai Govt Approves $1 Bn for Dawei

By The Irrawaddy 21 May 2012

Thailand has approved 203 projects that will cost more than 30 billion baht (US $1 billion) to support a deep-sea port and an industrial zone in Burma’s southern town of Dawei, according to The Bangkok Post.

Acting government spokesman Anusorn Iamsa-ard told the newspaper that the Thai cabinet on Sunday approved projects worth 33.11 billion baht to be completed in eight provinces. Of these, 60 projects worth about 1 billion baht are ready for immediate completion.

The projects were approved at a cabinet meeting chaired by Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in Kanchanaburi, a town west of Bangkok.

“[Dawei] can be a gateway for trade with the western side of the Asean region and a bridge to link Southeast Asia with other countries in the region,” said Anusorn.

According to its Government Public Relations Department, Thailand is taking part in the development of the Dawei deep-sea port and industrial estate in Burma, a project that will help spur the Burmese economy while upgrading the western part of Thailand into a new trade hub.

Thailand urged Burma to support the plan to develop a highway from Kanchanaburi to Dawei by opening its border passage next to Ban Phu Nam Ron village in Kanchanaburi province, according to the government website.

Led by the Thai deputy prime minister and finance minister, there are three stages in supporting the planned projects.

According to the Bangkok Post, these projects will include constructing a four-lane road linking Dawei and the Thai-Burmese border, a 93-million cubic metre reservoir, a coal-fired power plant, roads in the industrial estate, new residences, new government offices, and water, drainage and wastewater treatment systems.

Looking toward 2018, the second stage will include construction of a shopping centre in the area, as well as the widening of the road to Dawei to an eight-lane highway.

Railway tracks, electricity lines, and gas and oil pipelines will be expanded into the area from Thailand at the final stage (by 2020), according to the newspaper.

The Dawei deep-sea port and special economic zone in Dawei or Tavoy region in Tenasserim Division will be built by the Italian-Thai Development Plc (ITD), the biggest construction company in Thailand.

While Thailand speeds up its economic plans with Burma in the Dawei region, local residents have complained about unfair treatment over land confiscation and forced relocation. They worry that the development projects will cost them their land and livelihoods.

Many local people have complained that they have not received a fair price for land that has already been cleared to make way for a new road and houses which are being built for relocated residents.

Also, a total of around 30,000 people may have to be relocated by the end of 2013 to make way for the project, which is expected to be completed by 2015.