Vientiane, the 2nd of April 2010 [PDN]: The existing rail-network runs from Thailand’s North-Eastern Thai province of Nong Khai to the Laotian border town of Thanaleng. The proposal put forth by the Thai government offers to extend the existing line a further 12km to the Laotian capital of Vientiane.
Director of the Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (NEDA) Mr. Akarasiri Buranasiri announced that construction was likely to begin in 2011 with an allocated budget of over Bt1 billion. As well as improving the logistics and transport system between the two countries the extension is also expected to help facilitate an increase in tourism to the region for which both nations will benefit greatly. Leading economists also see Thailand’s renewed interest in the assisted development of Laos as a step towards gaining an advantage over its main competitor, China.
In addition to the rail upgrade, a further Bt405 million has been allocated to the continued development of the road network from Thailand’s Northern Province of Chiang Rai to the Chinese city of Kunming. The road link, known as R3, passes through the Laos cities of Houay Xay and Ban Sod on its way to China. The Thai government also agreed a Bt250 million package to help support the redevelopment and upgrade of Vientiane’s infrastructure systems in preparation for the upcoming 450-year anniversary of the capital.
In accordance with the various loans and assistance Laos is receiving from the Thai government, the agreements also stipulate that Laos is obligated to source at least 50% of the construction materials from within Thailand, whilst any consultants or contractors used in the projects must also be exclusively Thai companies.
A further proposal is currently being drawn up to be put before the Thai Cabinet which includes the establishment of a road link between the Laotian capital of Vientiane and Thailand’s Lower Northern Loei province. A budget of approximately Bt1.4 billion is expected to be announced if the development is approved.