Thailand aims for big results with Laem Chabang port expansion

Laem Chabang port of Thailand was once the most efficient in ASEAN.

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Laem Chabang port of Thailand was once the most efficient in ASEAN.

Located in Chon Buri province on the eastern seaboard, Laem Chabang Port is Thailand’s major deep-sea port handling international freight. It is envisaged as the trading gateway of the landlocked parts of mainland Southeast Asia. In 1961, the Thai government started its effort to construct a new deep-sea port at Laem Chabang to accommodate larger vessels that could not enter the Bangkok Port.

However, the project was suspended because of economic problems. Later, in 1987, the Government started the construction of Laem Chabang Port. The development of Laem Chabang Port, Phase 1, was completed at the end of 1990 and began operations in January 1991. In 1997, Laem Chabang Port hit the target of one million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) and became Thailand’s major port. In order to cope with the rapidly increasing number of vessels and cargoes, Phase 2 was launched in 1997, and it was completed in 2001.

Laem Chabang has become one of the busiest deep-sea ports in the world. The port covers an area of 2,536 acres (6,340 rai) and is fully capable of servicing transport on a global scale. The Government intends to develop Laem Chabang Port not only as a gateway to mainland Southeast Asia but also as a maritime transport hub of Asia.

In this regard, it plans to develop Laem Chabang Port, Phase 3, linking with neighboring countries through transport networks. Since the Government is taking steps to develop and boost investment in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) under the Thailand 4.0 policy, it has listed the development of Laem Chabang Port, Phase 3, as a pilot project in this area.

The project will increase container handling capacity from the current seven million TEU to 18 million TEU. Priority planning is given to logistics development, with emphasis on the construction of rail and road networks to bring about the modal shift to Laem Chabang as the regional logistic center and “transshipment hub” for freight distribution and collection.