The construction of the third Lao-Thai bridge over the Mekong river, connecting the town of Thakhek in Laos’ Khammouane province to Nakhon Phanom province in Northeastern Thailand, is set to begin next month by a Thai private company that has won the bidding. Mr. Onema Lassavong, Director of Public Works and Transport Department of Khammouane Province, confirmed that the groundbreaking ceremony will take place in early March, after the handover ceremony of the railroad connecting Bangkok to Laos’ train station at Dongphosy or Tha Nalaeng, Hatsayphong district in Vientiane capital.
The construction cost of the 3rd Lao-Thai bridge, expected to be over 18 million Baht, will be funded solely by the Thai government, which had required that it alone be allowed to select the builders. And the Italian-Thai Development PCL company has been selected based on its extensive experience in construction, having done many projects in Laos, including dams and infrastructures.
The 3rd Mekong bridge will be constructed in Veun Tai Village in the prefecture of Thakhek, about 13 kilometers north of the town of Thakhek and opposite Hom Village in Thailand’s Nakhonphanom district. It will have a span of over 700 meters and a width of 7 meters. The two roads connecting both ends of the bridge will be over 5,000 meters long. Construction is expected to be completed in the next three years.
Lao and Thai officials, particularly Khammouane and Nakhon Phanom provincial authorities, hope that this Mekong Bridge will play an important role in promoting cooperation in trading, investment and tourism, that can be linked to the central provinces of Vietnam as well. The special advantage of the construction of the bridge is that it is the shortest communication and transportation link between the three neighbors, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, via Route 12 in Khammouane Province which is only 170 Km long.
Considering the bridge’s strategic importance, Khammouane provincial authorities envision to develop and upgrade their province into a comprehensive services and tourism hub for Thailand and Vietnam after the completion of the bridge construction.
According to our VOA-Bangkok stringer, there are currently only 7 hotels, 41 motels and 51 restaurants as well as 146 tourist attraction sites that need to be further developed to meet international standards in order to be able to receive the full benefits from the economic development in the region as a result of this bridge construction.
Singrit Pongern reported from Bangkok. (English translation by Buasawan Simmala and Dara Baccam)
Listen to our audio files for more details in Lao.