The first Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge which links Vientiane and Nong Khai in Thailand will increase services to support the Asean Economic Community (AEC) next year.
The 1st Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge is one of Vientiane’s checkpoints which will be busy after Laos joins the AEC.
Deputy Director of the bridge Administration 1, Mr Somlith Phanthachack told Vientiane Times on Friday that they are now developing the border check point area, as well as improving their services to welcome the AEC.
Officials are of the belief that there will be a large increase in transportation at the bridge after Asean nations officially launch the AEC.
“We are now improving many sections at the bridge to support the community including infrastructure and services at the bridge,” he said.
“Before we had only two lanes of road but now we’ve increased it to more than four lanes as well as developing the parking area for big vehicles and trucks,” he added.
Mr Somlith explained that there were more people exiting than entering during this period because a lot of Lao people go across the bridge each weekend.
“There are about 46,000 to 50,000 people who cross the bridge outbound in a week with the most crowded days on the weekend. Meanwhile, the number of people entering is about 1,000 less than the number going out in a week.”
“We believe that numbers will increase rapidly after Laos joins the AEC. That’s why we would like to improve our bridge to support it,” he explained.
According to a Vientiane Times observation recently, there were crowds of people waiting for services on weekends. Journalists found several people complaining about slow service in stamping border passes, passports as well as vehicle documents.
“We try to the serve the public as quickly as possible but sometimes we also face some problems,” Mr Somlith said. In particular, local people coming from outside the city or another province still don’t know what documents they should bring and have stamped before leaving Laos to Thailand,” he said.
He added that even if they had a special team to serve these people it would take time woud to guide them in completing their documents, so it would cause work to slow serving other people.
“We are trying to increase our staff as well as sending some of them to train on improving the quality and speed of services. However, customers should also know what documents they should bring before crossing the bridge,” he said.
The bridge is now installing scanning machines to serve border pass paperwork as well as passports, to be more convenient for the public.
“We have been using them for about three to four months and facing some problems like people using passports to scan at the border pass machine and people using border passes to scan with the passport machine, even when we have signs to guide them, but they still get confused,” Mr Somlith said.
Bridge Administration 1 also reported that they have also set up a special team for emergencies at night after the bridge is closed at 10pm. The team will serve those emergencies crossing the bridge from 10pm to 6am everyday.
“The team will help emergency personnel to make contact with the team in Nong Khai, Thailand to open the bridge in case of emergency issues. It happens a few times per month that emergency services are required from local people,” he said.
The administration of the bridge have also asked the involved sector for drug scanning machines because sometimes they arrest drug dealers who attempt to smuggle drugs to sell in Thailand.
“We could arrest them when we got some information from our detectives and then we found the evidence with them; but some drug dealers hide the drugs inside their body and we can’t check for it. If we had a machine we could,” he explained.
The bridge is now improving its services. Meanwhile, the public can also help them by being patient while they work as well as preparing and collecting the correct documents before going to use the bridge services. This will help the officials to provide quicker services in the future.
Source: Vientiane Times