The newly built 62.8km Road 2E linking Khoa district in Phongsaly province and Tay Trang in Vietnam is now finished and is officially open to traffic.

A ceremony to formally open the road took place on Saturday at the Panghok border checkpoint. Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, and other officials from Laos and Vietnam attended the event.

Construction of the road, financed by a soft loan of US$43 million from the Vietnamese government, began in May 2009 and was completed last month.

The paved road is a vast improvement on the original narrow dirt road which was passable only in the dry season. The new road is classified as third class and will be open all year round.

The 6-metre wide road can take vehicles with a maximum axle weight of 9.2 tonnes, but at a top speed of only 30km per hour.

Two contractors were employed to build the road. The Lao Construction Consortium undertook to build a 30km stretch at a cost of US$16.8 million while the Vietnamese Civil Engineering Incorporation 18 was contracted for the remaining 38.2km at a cost of US$23.2 million. The remaining US$3 million was paid to consultants.

Lao and Vietnamese officials are confident the new transport link will contribute to socio-economic development in the northern provinces of the two countries.

“The completion of this road is a contribution to infrastructure improvement in Laos. It will create better conditions by providing a corridor to the sea, especially for the northern provinces, and will become an important road in the sub-region,” Mr Somsavat said in his address at the ceremony.

The road would also provide a link from Vietnam to Thailand and Myanmar, he added.

In times past the dirt road proved to be very important as it provided strategic access during the fight for national liberation.

Mr Somsavat, representing the Lao government and authorities and the people of Phongsaly, thanked the Vietnamese government and people for their valuable assistance. He said it recalled Vietnam’s assistance in years gone by and the joining together of the forces of the two nations in their fight against a common enemy. Mr Nguyen Xuan Phuc explained the strategic importance of the road to the cooperation between the two nations and the link between Vietnam’s northwest and Laos’ northeast provinces.

He praised the two countries’ engineers and labourers who worked shoulder to shoulder in dangerous terrain to build the road. He said he was confident that Road 2E would contribute to strengthening the tradition of friendly relations between the two nations.

Also speaking at the ceremony, the Governor of Phongsaly province, Mr Khamjane Vongphosy, promised to boost economic development in the area and also in other northern provinces through the new transport link.

Source: Vientiane Times
February 27, 2013