A group of investors from British Virgin Islands will invest $3 billion in the construction of a railway connecting Laos' Savannakhet province to a port in central Vietnam.
Mr. Noor Mohamed Ahmad, director of the Foreign Affairs Department of the Giant Group from British Virgin Islands, recently confirmed that his investment group is in the process of negotiating with the Lao government on the details of a plan to build a railroad in Savannakhet, adding that he expects to reach an agreement with Lao authorities within this month, December 2009. This construction project will need an investment of about $3 billion, and the railway will be built parallel to Route 9 that links the second Lao-Thai Mekong Bridge in Savannakhet with the Daensavanh Village border checkpoint in Laos and the Lao Bao border check point in central Vietnam, he further added.
Since approval has already been granted by the Vietnamese government for the construction of the segment stretching from the Lao Bao border checkpoint to the seaport in central Vietnam, and its plan to build the railroad in Savannakhet is consistent with the Lao government's goal to develop Laos as the junction of the lower-Mekong Basin and the Southeast Asian regions, the Giant Group is confident that its plan will be materialized within the next five years.
Laos currently has one 3.5 Km-long railroad linking Thanaleng in Dongphosy village, Hatsaiphong district, Vientiane, to the first Lao-Thai Friendship bridge and the Thai railroad that spans from Nongkhai province to Bangkok. The railway was built with the Thai government's assistance and launched early this year.
The Thai government is reportedly considering an additional aid of over 500 million baht or over $ 15 million to the Lao government to build a 9 Km-long railroad
stretching from Thanaleng to downtown Vientiane. A feasibility study has already been conducted and completed with the help of the French
government who also paid for construction designs. So the project, expected to cost over 500 million bahts, is currently pending a final decision by the Thai government.
The Lao government also has a plan to attract
foreign investments to build a railroad connecting Vientiane to Luang Prabang to the north, which could help it to become the transportation hub of Southeast Asia. But
so far no investor has shown interest in this railroad
project, probably because a project of such a long distance running through mountains needs a huge investment capital.