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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        14  February 2011

New bridge to span Mekong

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The fourth new Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, across the Mekong River in Chiang Rai, will further increase trade and travel not only between the two countries but also among the six countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).

The third Thai-Lao bridge linking Nakhon Panom with Khammuan is now 70 percent complete and will open in November.

The GMS comprises countries sharing the Mekong River: Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam and China's Yunnan province and Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

The bidding for the construction contract of the new bridge over the Mekong River was held last year, according to Viroon Kumpilo, president of the Chiang Rai Chamber of Commerce. "The cost of the bridge is estimated at approximately 1.4 billion baht, and will be equally funded by the Chinese and Thai governments," he said.

The project, part of North-South Economic Corridor International Bridge Project, will link Hueisay of Bo Keo in Laos and Chiang Khong district of Chiang Rai.

"It will connect with Route 3A (East), running between Bangkok, Chiang Rai and Kunming in South China and would benefit commercial traffic between the two countries through Laos's Laungnamtha province," he said.

The new bridge is expected to be completed by December 2012, and will be located at Ban Don Maha Wan, Chiang Khong, and Ban Don Khee Nok, Hueisay, Bo Keo. Mr. Viroon expects that the trade potential of both lignite imports from Laos and Thai consumer goods and commodities will be stimulated by the new route.

Meanwhile, he noted that a second, larger port is now under construction in Chiang Rai's Chiang Saen district in order to link Mekong River routes between China, Laos, Burma, and Thailand. The original Chiang Saen port is now overwhelmed by the increase in cross-border traffic.

The construction work of the fourth bridge, is going to start soon around March this year, said Mr. Viroon, adding that the date of the foundation stone-laying or ground-breaking ceremony was being worked out.

Meanwhile, the Vientiane Times newspaper quoted Thaworn Worabutre, the deputy director of the bridge construction project, as saying that the construction work for the 480-metre-long bridge, linking Hueisai and Chiang Khong, will take about 30 months to complete.

"The fourth bridge construction, when finished, could link Thailand via Laos and connect to southern China as only a 245-kilometre-long road," he said.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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