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Fifth Lao-Thai Mekong Bridge to Open Next Year

Source: Vientiane Times

The fifth Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge, which is currently under construction across the Mekong River, is set to open early next year to boost border travel between Laos and Thailand and spur trade with other countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

The 1,350-metre bridge, linking Borikhamxay province in Laos to Bueng Kan province in Thailand, is now 70 percent complete. Construction is ahead of schedule and the bridge is expected to open to traffic in early 2024.

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Deputy Prime Minister Prof. Dr. Kikeo Khaykhamphithoune and his officials on Monday visited the Pakxan district in Borikhamxay province to monitor the progress of construction.

Project Director (on the Lao side) Mr Laythong Phommavong outlined the overall situation, highlighting both the progress made and the challenges encountered.

Plans to build the bridge were first drawn up in 2014 when a survey was carried out. The design of the structure was approved by the Lao and Thai governments in 2018 and construction kicked off in January 2021.

A loan of 1.38 billion baht from Thailand’s Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (NEDA) was secured by the Lao government to build the Lao side of the bridge, with the total cost to be shared between Laos and Thailand.

The Lao component of the project comprises the construction of the bridge on the Lao side of the river over a distance of 535 meters, and the construction of access roads, immigration and customs buildings, and other structures on the Lao side.

Project officials have paid more than 5 billion kip in compensation to people who lost land and other property so the bridge could be built.

More than 52 hectares of farmland were lost to free up ground for the construction of the bridge.

The fifth Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge, a result of cooperation between the governments of Laos and Thailand, will be part of new infrastructure connecting regions and people on both sides of the Mekong and strengthening regional transport networks.

It will help promote cross-border trade, investment, and tourism, bolster economic growth in both countries and strengthen ties between the two neighbors.

The bridge will also help to turn the border areas of Borikhamxay province and Bueng Kan province in Thailand into a significant economic hub.

The first four bridges built across the Mekong River between Laos and Thailand serve the Vientiane-Nong Khai, Savannakhet-Mukdahan, Khammuan-Nakhon Phanom, and Huayxai-Chiang Khong routes.