The confirmation follows reports in the media yesterday that construction of the pier had been approved.
“The Phuket Airport Pier has not been approved yet. The concept is still being researched and senior officials at the Marine Department head office in Bangkok are considering what is possible,” Mr Surat told The Phuket News this morning.
“The Marine Department in Bangkok is responsible for this project. There have been no updates yet.” he added.
Mr Surat presented a notice issued by Marine Department on Wednesday (Mar 28) confirming that the project was still under consideration.
However, the notice did include Marine Department Director-General Chirute Visalachitra’s support for the project, saying it would help support the local economy by providing an alternative transport connecting route to the airport.
The notice also included a mark of approval for the project, but in clarifying that approval, Mr Surat today explained that the approval was only to move ahead on the plan presented in the feasibility study that is still being carried out into the project.
What has been approved are five ferry routes to improve sea transport across Phang Nga Bay, Mr Surat confirmed.
“The five ferry routes have been approved, but this project is still in its early stages. We have still yet to confirm exactly which piers are to be used in providing these ferry services, and even if some piers have to be built to make the project possible,” he said.
“These ferry services are expected to be popular among foreign tourists and they would help reduce congestion of tourists using Phuket International Airport, Krabi International Airport and reduce traffic on the roads,” Mr Surat added.
The five approved ferry routes are:
- Ao Por pier in Phuket – Chong Lad pier on Koh Yao Yai – Tha Laen pier in Krabi
- Chong Lad pier on Koh Yao Yai – Manoh Pier on Koh Yao Noi
- Ban Hua Hin pier in Tambon Koh Klang of Koh Lanta District on the Krabi mainland – Klong Mad pier on Koh Lanta Noi
- Koh Pu / Koh Jum in Krabi to Ao Thong Lang pier in Koh Lanta District
- Koh Lanta Yai – Koh Por, both in Krabi
Also approved is a series of speedboat services connecting Ao Por in Phuket; Leam Lan pier on Koh Yao Yai; Ton Sai Pier and Leam Tong Beach on Phi Phi Island; and Saladan pier on Koh Lanta in Krabi.
Mr Surat explained “These new routes ferry routes were approved after officials inspected the sites in Phuket and other areas last weekend (Mar 24-25). I joined these inspections.
“Next we must consider which piers will be suitable to link the five ferry routes. We have not made any decisions on which piers to use yet. We have distributed our plans to water transport companies. Whether or not these ferry services are actually launched depends on private investors,” he said.
“It is not easy for companies to invest in such projects. Private investors have to do their own research and calculate the tourism capacity. There are lots of details to consider. We cannot confirm if any of the five ferry services will actually be launched until an investor confirms with us,” Mr Surat said.
“Now we are open to any investors interested in these water transport routes. Any investor can go to talk about these at any local Marine Office in the region (Phang Nga, Krabi and Phuket),” he added.
Respected marine environment activist Dr Thon Thamrongnawasawat, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Fishery at Kasetsart University in Bangkok and who serves as an official advisor to the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR), yesterday voiced his concern of the Phuket airport pier and five new ferry routes, saying in a Facebook post that the plans so far did not support “Green Port” policies and were likely to cause harm to the local marine environment. (See post here.)
In response, Mr Surat noted, “Dr Thon’s Facebook post is only his thoughts. He shared his own opinion.”