Opponents rally against Satun deep-sea port

Opponents of the Pak Bara port project rally at Ban Pakbang School in Langu district, Satun, on Thursday morning. (Photo via Banjong Nasae's Facebook page)

SATUN - About 1,000 opponents of the Pak Bara deep-sea port project rallied in the public hearing venue, Ban Pakbang School, in Satun's Langu district on Thursday, intending to block the session.

The protesters started to gather at the school on Wednesday night.

Hundreds of security officers were deployed to the area to prevent any confrontation between opponents and proponents of the project.

The first public hearing of the Pak Bara port project was scheduled there on Thursday and the military reportedly planned to organise the session for the Maritime Department, the project owner.

Opponents said the people invited would present only information positive to the project while the negative aspects would be ignored, especially the impact on natural resources that are the foundations of local tourism. They feared the planned port would lead to additional infrastructure projects and petrochemical industries.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said later on Thursday a sub-committee had been formed to discuss possible solutions with representatives of the project's opponents.

The panel comprised specialists, academics and local residents, he said.

He ordered the commander of the 4th army to secure the situation there. If the situation seemed likely to descend into turmoil, the public hearing could be postponed, Gen Prawit said.

According to the Marine Department, the Pak Bara port project planned for Pak Bara beach in tambon Pak Nam of Langu district would end Thailand's dependence on ports of neighbouring countries for exports to destinations to its west.

The port would involve land reclamation in the form of an artificial island 430 metres wide and 1,086 metres long, and cover an area of 292 rai about four kilometres offshore. There would be a concrete bridge connecting it to the mainland.

Initially it would be capable of handling 825,000 20-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) per year. The planned final capacity is expected to be 8.76 million TEUs.

A graphic from the Marine Department shows the planned Pak Bara port on a man-made offshore island.

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