Top Lao and Thai leaders gathered in Borikhamxay and Bueng Kan provinces on Friday for the official groundbreaking ceremony for the fifth Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge, more than 50 percent of which has been completed.
Though work on the bridge began some time ago, the official groundbreaking was done following the easing of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The groundbreaking ceremony was held on both sides of the border in Borikhamxay province of Laos and Bueng Kan province of Thailand. The event was attended by Lao
Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh and Thai Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha.
The Lao’s Minister of Public Works and Transport, Dr Viengsavath Siphandone, said the countries had agreed on the project in August 2019. Thailand’s Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (NEDA) loaned the Lao government 1,380 million baht for the project, with the cost to be borne by the two countries.
Construction on both sides started at the beginning of January 2021, and more than 56 percent of the project has been completed so far. It is estimated that the bridge will be completed and put into use by the beginning of 2024.
The project consists of two components – the construction of the bridge across the Mekong river, and the construction of an access road to the bridge and immigration facilities. Both components are expected to be completed by the end of 2023 and opened in early 2024. The fifth Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge between Borikhamxay and Bueng Kan will be an extra-dosed pre-stressed concrete bridge. It will have a pylon design inspired by the characteristics of the “Khaen”, the traditional bamboo mouth organ commonly found in the Mekong Basin region.
The bridge will have two carriageways, one in each direction, and a shoulder and sidewalk on each side. The total length will be 1,350 metres, including an 810-metre bridge span, a 130-metre approach viaduct on the Lao side, and a 410-metre approach viaduct on the Thai side.
Other components of the project include four-lane roads that will connect with highway networks in both countries, Border Control Facilities (BCF) and weighing stations on both sides, and a traffic changeover close to the Lao BCF. The connecting roads on the Lao side will also provide links to Vietnam and southern China. The fifth Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge, a result of cooperation between the governments of Laos and Thailand, will be part of new infrastructure connecting regions and people on both sides of the Mekong river and enhancing regional transport networks for greater travel convenience.
It will help promote cross-border trade, investment and tourism, bolster sustainable economic growth in both countries, and strengthen ties between the two neighbours.
The fifth Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge will also help to turn the border areas in Laos’ Borikhamxay province and Thailand’s Bueng Kan province into a significant economic gateway of the region. It will also facilitate the movement of goods from Thailand to southern China and from the central region of Laos to Laem Chabang port in Thailand for trans-shipment to other regions.
Source: Vientianetimes October 31, 2022