Ceremony celebrates two years of Lao-Thai bridge construction
Lao and Thai officials will hold a ceremony on December 12 to celebrate the second anniversary of the start of construction of the fourth Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge across the Mekong.
The fourth Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge over the Mekong River in Bokeo province.
The 630 metre bridge, which crosses from Bokeo province to Chiang Rai province in Thailand, is scheduled for completion next June – six months after the original deadline.
Joining the event will be high-ranking officials from Laos and Thailand, including Lao officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Public Works and Transport, and Bokeo province.
Head of the Fourth Mekong River Bridge Construction Project, Mr Vanthong Budtanavong, told the Vientiane Times on Thursday the bridge linked up the two countries last month.
On the Lao side, construction is about 90 percent complete and workers are now building railings and footpaths.
New roads linking current networks to the bridge are about 25 percent complete, and the immigration station is half built.
“Considering every aspect of construction, we've done more than 60 percent of the work,” Mr Vanthong said. “I'm confident the bridge will be finished by June 2013.”
The original construction signing ceremony was held in May 2010, and the project officially began the next month. A six-month extension to the project deadline was approved after delays.
The bridge is part of the Greater Mekong Sub-Region North-South Economic Corridor, and will link Chiang Rai province with Kunming in China via Road R3 in Laos. Locally, it will connect Done village in Huayxai district, Bokeo province, with Ing village in Chiang Rai province.
The 14.7 metre wide bridge will ease the transport of goods between Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and China, and open up the area to further tourism development.
The project is jointly funded by Laos and Thailand, with the total cost exceeding US$44.8 million.
According to Bokeo provincial officials, the Chinese government is providing US$20 million in grant aid so the Lao government can meet its 50 percent share of the costs. Laos will also contribute more than four billion kip in compensation for people whose properties are affected on the Lao side of the bridge.
The bridge is about nine kilometres from Road R3, which heads north to China. It's being built to the same design as the first Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge – which opened in 1994 – linking Vientiane with Thailand's Nong Khai province.
A Special Economic Zone is under development in Bokeo province in an effort to boost economic activity in the region.
It's situated near the meeting point of Laos, Thailand and Myanmar, and bordered by the Mekong and Huak rivers.
By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
(Latest Update November 23, 2012)