PHUKET: Deputy Minister of Tourism and Sports Napintorn Srisunpang this week inspected the Sakun.C Innovation Co Ltd boatbuilding factory in Suphan Buri where electric passenger boats are under construction for launch in Phuket, which will be the first province in the country to use electric-powered boats for marine passenger transport to nearby islands.
Deputy Minister of Tourism and Sports Napintorn Srisunpang this week inspected the Sakun.C Innovation Co Ltd boatbuilding factory in Suphan Buri, where the country’s first electric passenger boats are under construction for launch in Phuket. Photo: Ministry of Tourism and Sports.
The inspection delegation, on Wednesday (Sept 16), was welcomed by the company’s managing director and other company employees, reported the Ministry of Tourism and Sports (MoTS).
The boats being built by Sakun.C are the first electric passenger boats to be registered by the Marine Department national headquarters in Bangkok, where all boat designs must be approved and registered, said the MoTS report.
Marine Dept Chief Wittaya Yamuang last month announced that Phuket will be the first province in Thailand where electric boats will be used.
In that announcement, Mr Wittaya explained that Sakun.C Innovation Co Ltd and Phuket Patri Tour Group Co Ltd, which operates Ao Por Pier under a concession granted by the Marine Dept, will together launch the electric passenger boats under the name “Banpu Next e-Ferry”, reported Thai business news portal Thansettakij.
The move is to support green tourism, Mr Wittaya said.
“At this stage, the boat is still under the testing process and will be ready to serve Phuket people as soon as the tests have concluded,” he added.
“The cost of producing this boat is quite low, as its whole body is made of aluminum. The boat fares will not be expensive, and they could even be lower [than initially estimated] if the price of batteries fall in the future,” Mr Wittaya noted.
“As planned, 30 of these boats will start providing services next year. The number of electric boats will increase to 200 within four years, and the [ferry] services provided will cover Andaman coast provinces within five years,” he said.
“We are also preparing to develop new tourist routes in the south of Thailand, including Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga, as new routes for tourism. After these new ferry routes have been developed, we will expand the routes to include from Krabi to Trang. The project is expected to start by the end of 2020,” Mr Wittaya explained.
“The second version of the electric boats will include solar panels, and these are expected to be produced in the coming year,” he said.
Phuket Marine Office Director Wiwat Chitchertwong told The Phuket News this week, “At this stage, I cannot say when the boats will start operating, as the project has been affected by global pandemic crisis.
“However, we will hold a press conference about these boats next month,” he added.