The construction of new roads to link the northern parts of Laos and Thailand through Xayaboury province has commenced, to facilitate trading, logistics and tourism between the two countries.
Buakham Vannaly, the project manager, told Vientiane Times that the road link would particularly benefit 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.
Both countries reached an agreement on the project funding last month. Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction will undertake the project, which is expected to last around 30 months.
It 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 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.
The construction is funded by the Thai government at a cost of almost Bt1.4 billion with 80 per cent being a 30-year loan to the Lao government and the rest as financial aid. 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 Mr Buakham, the existing 3-metre wide roads would be expanded to 7 metres.
Once the road link is 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.