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Sea navigation, challenges and potentials in South East Asia: an assessment of suitable sites for a shipping canal in the South Thai Isthmus

Rajesh B. Thapa, Michiro Kusanagi, Akira Kitazumi and Yuji Murayama
GeoJournal
Vol. 70, No. 2/3 (2007), pp. 161-172
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41148216
Page Count: 12
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Sea navigation, challenges and potentials in South East Asia: an assessment of suitable sites for a shipping canal in the South Thai Isthmus
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Abstract

This paper discusses the situation of sea navigation in south East Asia focusing on the Strait of Malacca. The strait links the Indian and Pacific oceans, which is considered one of the busiest in several narrow channels around the world. The paper highlights the significance of the strait to global maritime trade, volume of traffic, and rising environmental and social consequences in the strait. A feasibility study of constructing a new shipping canal in the South Thai Kra Isthmus as an alternative option of Malacca route had been studied since 19th century. The paper explores suitable sites for a potential shipping canal in the Kra Isthmus using physiographic spatial data i.e., elevation, sea charts, geology, soils and river systems. Each spatial data was considered as a separate decision variable for site evaluation. Separate evaluation criterions were prepared for each variable based on shipping canal requirements. Overlaying the maps in GIS environment, the variables were carefully evaluated, and five geographic sites for the canal were derived. The length of the shipping canal over sea and land was computed for each site. Site B located in south of Ranong and Chumphon provinces, was the shortest one, whereas site C in Surat Thani, Pangnna and Krabi provinces was the longest. However, each site consisted of benefits and constraints.

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