The construction of new roads to link the northern parts of Laos and Thailand through Xayaboury province has commenced after the a funding agreement between the two countries was reached last month.
The new project comprises five connected roads with the first one being 63km long and begins at Ban Huak, Phu Sang district, Phayao province in Thailand and crosses to Khop district in a southeast direction towards Xianghone district in Xayaboury province.
The second road to be constructed will be 25km long and stretches from Khop district northwards through Ban Pakkhop to Ban Kontun in Xayaboury province.
There will also be a 13km-long route in Xianghone district, an 8km-long road will be running through Khop district and lastly a 2km-long road will link Ban Pakkhop to the Mekong River near Pakbeng.
The construction is funded by the Thai government at a cost of almost 1.4 million baht with 80 percent being a 30-year loan to the Lao government and the rest as financial aid.
The project manager Buakham Vannaly said the roads would be part of a road network in the sub-region and would connect with Road 2W through the Mekong River at Pakbeng in Oudomxay province.
He said the road link would facilitate trading, logistics and tourism between Laos and Thailand particularly in the transportation of crops to Thailand and the flow of tourists from the northern parts of Thailand to the northern parts of Laos such as Luang Prabang.
Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction will undertake the project, which is expected to last around 30 months.
Buakham said the construction begun a little later than they had expected as the contractor has to import several pieces of equipment and materials.
A survey is currently being conducted to assess the possible impact to existing utilities and residential properties such as power grids, telephone posts and agricultural lands, he said.
According to Buakham, the existing 3-metre wide roads would be expanded to 7 metres.
Once the road link has been completed, it will become one of the most important Laos-Thailand border crossing points in Xayaboury province as it is situated in both the north and south regions of the province with a crossing point at Nam Heuang Friendship Bridge on Road No. 4 in the southern part of the province.
This will prove to be a closer and easier way to enter the northeast parts of Thailand as well as the popular Lao tourist destination of Luang Prabang.