Luang Namtha repairs broken sections of R3 Road
The R3 Road in Luang Namtha province is currently undergoing repairs to repave its concrete surface after a few sections of the road deteriorated and started to break up in recent years.
A provincial official, who asked not to be named, told Vientiane Times on Tuesday morning that there were many factors behind the deterioration of the road.
He said the R3 Road was built a number of years ago and adding to the normal wear and tear were factors including a lack of scheduled maintenance and also large numbers of heavy freight trucks plying the route.
“Road maintenance is done but not always according to a schedule because funding is limited,” the official said.
Right now, most of the roads in Laos are quite small and their quality is not very high.
Recently, China has asked Laos to consider increasing the allowable weight limit for heavy trucks on the nation's roads, with large numbers of Chinese trucks operating, especially in the northern provinces.
Currently, a weight limit of 11 tonnes per axle is imposed throughout the country and Chinese goods transporters would like to see this increased to allow larger trucks to operate in Laos.
However if trucks carrying loads of more than 11 tonnes per axle are allowed to operate, it is expected the roads will quickly start to deteriorate.
The R3 Road, which runs over a distance of 180 km, was built to link the Lao-Thai border in Bokeo province to the Lao-China border in Luang Namtha province.
The 4th Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge connects Chiang Rai in Thailand to Kumming in China via the R3 Road in Laos.
The route forms a vital link in the North South Economic Corridor which facilitates trade and transportation between Laos, Thailand and China.
It supports local transportation in landlocked areas of northern Laos, providing an accessible route for goods transport to domestic markets as well as offering international market opportunities.
Works on the Lao side of the bridge were completed in 2012, including the 6km of asphalt road linking the bridge to the R3 Road.
The bridge is part of the Greater Mekong Sub-Region North-South Economic Corridor, which links Chiang Rai province in Thailand to Yunnan province in China via Laos.
The bridge is now speeding up the transport of goods between Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and China, and will open up the area to further tourism development.
By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
(Latest Update January 25, 2017)