France okays Thai-Laos railway link
France has given the green light for a rail link between Thailand and Laos in a trilateral agreement between the countries, the director-general of the French Development Agency (FDA), Jean-Michel Severino said yesterday.
Severino, who visited Bangkok with President Jacques Chirac last week, held a press conference yesterday to promote bilateral cooperation. The rail link, which was first discussed by Chirac and Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra two years ago, will link Nong Khai and Vientiane.
It will be the first rail line in Laos.
The project has two phases. The Thai government will finance the first phase, which will link Thailand to Tha Na Laeng in Laos, said Laurent Deney, director of AFD Thailand. The contractor will be selected soon, he said.
France will finance the second phase, which will linking Tha Na Laeng to Vientiane, said Deney, adding that the AFD would begin a detailed study into the estimated 30-kilometre line in a few weeks. It hopes to conclude the study by the end of this year and start the project next year.
Deney estimated the cost of the project at about US$13 million (Bt512 million).
The AFD, which opened an office in Thailand in 2004, plans to cooperate with Thailand in managing rubber plantations in Cambodia, and providing tourism and textile training to Cambo-dians and Laotians.
The AFD plans to invest ¤40 million (Bt1.8 billion) to protect the environment along the Andaman coast.
AFD operates in more than 40 countries, mostly sub-Sahara African nations. It provides grants, technical assistance and loans to emerging and developing countries, state-owned enterprises and infrastructure projects. It spent ¤3 billion in last year.