According to Mr. Onema Lassavong, Director of Communication and Construction Department of Khammouane Province, the construction of the third Mekong bridge, linking the town of Thakhek in central Laos to Nakhonphanom in northeastern Thailand, will start soon, as the Thai government is currently recruiting contractors to bid on the project.
Co-designed by Lao and Thai engineers, the bridge will be constructed in Veun Tai Village, about 13 kilometers north of the town of Thakhek and opposite Hom Village in Thailand’s Nakhonphanom district. The 780 meter-long bridge will connect Route 13 South on the Lao side to the highway in Thailand to constitute a road of some 5,000 meters long. Construction is expected to take three and half years to complete, with an estimated cost of over 18 million Baht to be funded solely by the Thai government.
The bridge will also connect Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam via Route 12 in Laos’ Khammouane Province, which leads to seaports in central Vietnam. Thus Thai and Lao authorities believe it will stimulate and boost trade and tourism at an average of 15% annually starting from 2012 when construction is completed, since it will provide the shortest transportation route between the three countries.
In addition, Khammouane officials envision turning their province into a tourism hub for Thailand and Vietnam. Officials say there are over 140 tourist attractions in the province. However, there are only 7 hotels, 41 motels and some 50 restaurants that are largely under acceptable standard, in both locations and services. The province was able to accommodate only approximately 150 thousand tourists last year. Thus, Laos will still need further investment and development in various aspects in order to be able to receive the full benefits from the economic development in the region as a result of this bridge construction.
Listen to Songrit’s report for more details in Lao.