fourth mekong bridge Laos and Thailand are considering building another ‘friendship’ bridge across the Mekong River between Ubon Ratchathani province in Thailand and Saravan province in Laos.

The two sides realise the significance of road and bridge linkages that serve as a crucial east-west economic corridor, linking Thailand to Vietnam through Laos.

Director of Saravan province’s Department of Public Works and Transport, Mr Sengdalith Kattiyasak, told Vientiane Times on Friday that authorities from the two provinces have already met twice to discuss the project .

Asked when he thought the project might be realised, he said no timeframe had been confirmed but the province had proposed the matter to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport. It will fall within the cooperation framework of the Lao-Thai Joint Commission.

Mr Sengdalith said the project should be included in the next five year plan. The two countries share the view that the bridge is essential for promoting trade, investment and tourism in Laos and Thailand and the region as a whole.

“Prior to this, Saravan was a closed province, but now it’s becoming an open province or a transit route for the southern region,” he said. A road linking the provincial capital to Vietnam has now been built over a length of 147km.

Meanwhile, a road linking the provincial capital to Road No. 13 south in Napong village, Khongxedon district, is under construction and is scheduled for completion next year.

If the proposed bridge is built, the transport of goods between Laos, Vietnam and the southern Isaan region of Thailand will be easier and businesses will have more options for exporting their products.

Saravan would benefit from the bridge due to the inflow of foreign investment in the province. Several mega projects including cement production and mining are up and running and the bridge would serve as a transport link for these operations.

Laos is a land-locked country, which makes it difficult to export goods to international markets. The government has a clear policy to transform Laos into a land link in order to be competitive at a time of regional integration.

Laos and Thailand have built several bridges across the Mekong in a bid to strengthen their cooperative relations.

The first Lao-Thai Fr iendship Bridge was built in 1994, linking Vientiane to Nong Khai province. The second Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge, linking Mukdahan with Savannakhet province, opened for use in 2006. A third Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge, linking Khammuan province in central Laos to Nakhon Phanom province in northeastern Thailand, opened in November 2011.

A fourt h Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge linking Chiang Rai province with Bokeo province in Laos is scheduled for completion in October this year.

Source: Vientiane Times
April 22, 2013